New Year's Honours list 2017 odds - from Andy Murray to JK
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The Ambling Sapient
The roar of the crowd hauled my awareness out of the abyss and into my prone form. My limbs were sluggish to respond as I shimmied and stretched myself awake, but something at the back of my mind told me to treat things with a sense of urgency. Wait... roar of the crowd? I cracked an eyelid and confirmed that I was nowhere near my bed. Scratch that, I'm not even near the living room couch. Scuffed metal plates and rusted grating. What the hell? I opened both eyes, and a booming voice nearly caused me to jump out of my skin. "Look at that folks! Our competitor rejoins us in the world of the living! For now..." The roaring ambience redoubled at the commentary. Whatever this is, it's filmed in front of a live studio audience. The speakers started out blaring gibberish, but it was quickly cut over by English. Must be some sort of translator in here. I hauled myself into a sitting position and looked around with bleary eyes. This has gotta be a dream, right? "Ah and now it moves! This, [ladies and gentlemen] is a bilaterally symmetrical [warm-blooded] pack omnivore from a little [yellow-sunned] backwater in the [Orion-Cygnus arm]. Let's hear a big round of applause for the retrieval crew folks. This particular specimen had a vicious quadrupedal guard-symbiont inhabiting its lair, and I am told the casualties were... significant." If you did anything to my fucking dog I swear I'll... "Alas, their sacrifices were not to be in vain. This will be quite a show, [people]. Remember folks, this species is from a truly out of the way system. We're going to be learning about this organism in real time alongside you. The science team tells me this thing is a true generalist, within a standard deviation of the average for intelligence, speed and strength. A lack of natural weapons is somewhat disappointing, but we're excited to see the ways in which it compensates. That's great news for the fans. Our experts estimate this specimen will be in the 80th percentile for time-to-kill, which means incredible bang for your buck, folks. Really. People are going to be furious that they paid full price for next cycle's show when they see how long this one runs for. What a treat." Time-to-kill? Fuck that, it's time to get some answers. I looked around, but I was alone in here. Announcer must be working from a booth somewhere. I addressed the rough centre of my cell. "Hey, uh, announcer dude?" Just as I began to worry that 'dude' might be sufficiently gender-specific to cause offense, the voice begins again. "Your [audio senses] do not deceive you, folks. Our next contestant speaks! Greetings, biped. Welcome to the Arena. You're a hapless primitive, so this is no doubt the single most impressive place you've ever seen." So far as I can tell Roman architects had these guys beat 4000 years ago, let alone the guys who design the space casinos in New Vegas, but I'm just a hapless primitive so what the fuck do I know. It would just be snarky to interrupt him when he's on a roll. "You have been granted the tremendous honour of being selected as a contestant for this cycle's iteration of The Ambling Sapient!" Contestant? No way, pal. I didn't sign the release, and I am most certainly suing you the moment I can get in touch with my lawyer. "Well, consider me... tremendously... honoured... by that, but what exactly does 'The Ambling Sapient' entail?" The announcer chuckled disdainfully at that. I don't know where exactly one is supposed to punch disembodied voices, but his tone made me want to find out. "Oh, you quaint little thing. The Ambling Sapient is the most thrilling, most visceral, most state-sponsored form of entertainment this side of the galaxy! Each cycle we take a smattering of primitives like you from undeveloped worlds across the [Skryrn Empire], bolster their ranks with the incarcerated, the destitute, and other dregs of society, and turn the whole lot of you loose in the Arena's urban simulator to contend with an army of our murderous bounty hunters. Last sapient standing wins! Unless it's a bounty hunter, which it usually is, in which case the Empire wins!" The crowd went nuts again. Fuck. I managed to sleepwalk my way into organized, alien bloodsport. My therapist is gonna have a fuckin' field day with this. Maybe I'll omit the 'drunken blackout' factor in my retelling. "I didn't agree to this." The smug bastard actually guffawed at this, like it was a goddamn affront I'd take issue with being drafted into playing the most dangerous game for some jagoff xeno emperor. "Well no, you wouldn't have. If we cared what you thought you'd be a citizen of the Empire and you'd have actual rights and freedoms. We don't, because you're a shithead primitive from a civilization that can't even crack lightspeed, and we are like unto Gods to your puny backwater minds. See folks, this is half of the fun for an old windbag like me. This little monkey is still coming to terms with the realization that any sense of agency it ever enjoyed was a condescending illusion. There are greater forces at work in the galaxy, contestant, and you should be thankful to be borne along in their wake. This is an opportunity to transcend your ignominious existence and provide [minutes] of precious entertainment to a being so grand the very stars are shaped at his behest." I was starting to get a pretty good idea of the sort of asshole I was dealing with, so I chose my next words very carefully. "Gee, thanks. I'm humbled." "Now I understand that this is simply an artifact of your flailing attempts at proto-language, but my auto-interpreter just tagged that with 'ambiguous tone'. Do you mind reaffirming for the cameras just how humbled you feel to have been selected for Lord Pha'Gouad?" I hope the windbag's auto-interpreter caught the meaning of my smirk before I spat out my reply. "Hell no. This sucks sweaty taint, and you people are fucking barbarians. The last 'enlightened' human civilization to practice bloodsport also openly practiced pedophilia. Tell Lord Fuckwad he can eat my ass, right after I win your stupid game show." I could hear the gears failing to catch in the announcer's head as he struggled to process my little tirade. "I... excuse me? Why you insufferable little... Lord... what does [copulation-gobbet] even mean?" I couldn't help but chuckle as the smug douche went into fits. That'll teach the folks at home to watch with the kiddos. "It's what I'm going to blow, in your mom, after I'm done winning this thing and skullfucking your boss." "Cease this insolence AT ONCE!" I'd better cool it with the snark lest they execute me before it even begins. "You will remain silent whether you like it or not, contestant. I have cut your feed. I had intended to excite the audience for your brief tenure in the Arena, but now we're all united in hoping for your swift, painful death." Sure, buddy. I bet half the people in here hope I stick it to your smug alien ass. Something tells me this Lord Fuckwad isn't exactly the pinnacle of statesmanship. "We will begin ignoring you now. You will receive a final briefing from the holoscreen in your cell." I flipped off the centre of the chamber and started stretching. There was no telling when the contest was going to start and I wanted to hit the ground running. The holoscreen flared to life, projecting what was unmistakably one of those dry, HR-produced training videos into the air in a lattice of dancing light. "Welcome, contestant. Please pay careful attention to maximize the entertainment provided to the good spectators of The Ambling Sapient." I swear to God, these buffoons. They seriously added an echo and a thunderclap sound bite to emphasize the name of their stupid bloodsport. In their defense, whoever did the voiceover's monotone is bad enough that it might kill me via boredom before the door to my cell ever opens. "Your containment cell will be lifted and deposited via field-friction directly into the Arena, where it will open in synchronicity with the cells of all other contestants. Bounty hunters will be waiting for you, and a second wave will be released an indeterminate amount of time after the contest commences. You must use your environment, and your own natural gifts to evade the bounty hunters and eliminate rival contestants." I am not looking forward to killing other unwilling participants in this nightmare gameshow. Can't blame them for trying to off me though... I'll have to try and avoid everyone. Endurance is my most obvious natural gift, surely I can win this if I turn it into a war of attrition? "This cycle's theme is [Marathon]. In each contestant's cell there is a totem. Any contestant who can deliver their totem to a totem-specific receptacle hidden around the Arena will be released from the competition. Contestants who do so forego any other potential contest rewards, and count as eliminated for the purpose of determining the contest's winner. They will be granted Proletariat-class membership in the [Skryrn Empire]. The totem will periodically emit light to help usher the contestant in the direction of the receptacle. The minimum distance-to-travel is a staggering [5500 metres], with some totem-receptacle pairs requiring as much as [7000 metres] of foot travel, thus ensuring that contestants who attempt to exit the contest are not able to do so trivially." I try to maintain a cool exterior as inside my head I frantically celebrate being abducted by the laziest fucking aliens in the galaxy. I haven't had the wide-open space to run that I'd like to since I took that job starside, but my treadmill with elevation settings has done an admirable job of simulating the ground. I'm not 22 anymore, unless I want to identify as the number of alcoholic beverages I consume every weekend, but 5-7K is still a warm up and not a workout unto itself. "That concludes our The Ambling Sapient tutorial video. Good luck, contestant." The fucking thunderclaps. Good luck to you too, narrator, because if I get out of here I'm finding you and tearing out whatever passes for a larynx for your species, and I'm starting to get pretty darn confident that I'm getting out of here. At least the windbag with the audience had some theatrical flair. The cell lurched suddenly and I tumbled to the ground. I suppose the tutorial ending should have been a clue, but I'm processing a lot right now. I can forgive myself for a small lapse in foresight. I braced myself so as not to slide across the floor as an undignified heap, but besides the inertia of their friction-fields or whatever grabbing my cell it was a relatively smooth ride. I glanced around and spotted the totem. I think it must have been unlit before, or else I'm really not very perceptive while my brain is still waking up, because it was pretty much the cell's only obvious feature apart from the windows. It was a small baton, maybe a third of a metre in length and about as big around as a broom handle. It looked sturdy enough to hit someone with, I noted hopefully. If they arm me for my little warmup jog this will go down as the easiest life-or-death struggle in human history. Eventually the sensation of motion stopped, and I only stumbled a little as my balance adjusted. I hefted the totem and, sure enough, it would make for a great bludgeon in a pinch. I wasn't sure what sort of electronics they packed into the thing, but resolved only to risk breaking my ticket out of here if the alternative was death. The cell doors opened with a soft hiss. Swallowing the bubbling, subversive anxiety that was churning my guts, I stepped out into the streets of the Arena. The air smelled pretty much like a city's should. Dirty, artificially hot and packed with all the creatively diverse pollutants that any arrogant society is willing to lace their atmosphere with in the name of prosperity and advancement. I was reasonably sure the ambient light level was increasing, which meant I had maybe half an hour before the sun first peeked over the Arena's artifical horizon. The totem lit up just once, projecting a faint beam of light off into the city streets. Well, I thought, it's now or never. Time to show these assholes who they're messing with.
Document hub Our dearest spectators! Welcome once again to the Great Arena, where the Fifth annual tournament will take place! This is the birthplace of heroes and villains, the crucible which only the worthiest fighters can survive, and the others valiantly offer themselves as the tribute to the Highest of all Gods, Armok! And now, at the precipice of this grand event, I can ask you all but one thing: Are you ready to see blood spill?! Are you ready to see legends begin and end?! Of course, you are ready! So, let us begin! Fight 1A:Nora Gomez vs. Jack E. Chan Our two first contestants are certainly peculiar characters, which is the least to be said about them. In the upper corner, we have Nora Gomez (managed by u/snisel), a philosophy student who just couldn’t find any fame. With a longsword and a bit of armour, she decided to make a name for herself in the Arena - possibly entirely new name. Of course, that isn’t going to be easy...Her opponent is Jack E. Chan (managed by u/Timemaster_2000), a gremlin with a lot of ego, as it seems. Having decided that winning the tournament is no more difficult than winning a bar fight, he has strolled in with nothing but his teeth and fists. Let’s see how he holds up in real battle! Log; Combat Video; The horn sounds for the first time this year, and the rivals rush towards each other. The fight starts with a flurry of blows directed at Nora, which leaves her with a messed-up face very early in the fight. Still, quite a few of them get deflected by the woman’s newly-bought armour, and while the gremlin seems extremely confident in continuing his offensive, it is soon cut short - along with his leg, that is. With the gremlin on the ground, bleeding profusely, it is not too hard for the student to get another strike in; her sword plunges into the gremlin’s stomach, and soon enough bloodloss proves way too severe for Jack to continue moving. With her opponent dead, Nora sets her sun hat right, before moving away through the doors of the arena. Congratulations, Nora! Today, you’ve started to claim your name. Fight 1B:SHLAGAFLAGADEEBUS, The Bronze Buffoon vs. Anyola the Obscured First blood is spilt - but we must immediately move to our next fighters! SHLAGAFLAGADEEBUS (managed by u/JA_Pascal) is a kobold of many unknowns; their (we’re not sure about the gender) elven trainer claims that they were once a human demigod, turned by the gods into a kobold with no memories of themselves and wishing to reclaim their glory. In any case, they seem pretty competent with his bow; but will it help them? Opposing him is Anyola the Obscured (managed by u/NordicNooob) is a masked lovebird woman with a long and tragic history of kinslaying, subterfuge and hateful family; the history which she has come to put an end to, one way or another. Fighting for the riches to ensure her safety from her clan, she wields her dagger with precision and skill. Will there be a continuation to her story? Log; Combat Video; As soon as the horn sounds, the kobold lets loose an arrow - one that goes off the course; the bird woman closes in too quickly for Shlagaflagadeebus to shoot another before she starts stabbing mercilessly. They barely manage to set another arrow flying before Anyola plunges a dagger in their foot, making them fall, and starts methodically cutting down the kobold. Pretty much defenseless against her assault, the kobold loses more and more blood and body parts, and eventually is left completely exsanguinated. Anyola sweeps her dagger clean of the kobold blood, before silently and quickly leaving. Congratulations, Anyola! It seems no secret now how you’ve escaped your assassins. Fight 1C:Kol Tatloshók vs. Boris the Bottomless, Student of the Old Terrors Our next gladiator is Kol Tatloshók (managed by u/sh4mmat)! Hailing from the dwarven fortress of Rintorngalák, known as the birthplace of Shorast from the previous tournament, she has been sent as an… invader of the arena? Anyway, she fights for the glory of her fortress and seems like a good shot with her crossbow. Will she go farther than her predecessor?.. Standing against her is Boris the Bottomless (managed by u/imperator1123), a gnome of deep thoughts. He has been dissatisfied with the gnome way of life, and sought a new one - finding it amongst the Carp. With a dagger in his hand, he is determined to show it to his brethren. We will see whether he succeeds. Log; Combat Video Right at the start, Kol’s bolt flies towards the gnome and misses; Boris quickly ducks under another one, before making a quick and precise stab to the dwarf’s leg, then to her stomach and both of her arms. Her crossbow and bolts lie on the floor with her, and her fate seems to be sealed - but as the gnome’s dagger is stuck in her hand, she manages to turn over and put the gnome into a headlock with her leg, before throwing the small creature into the wall. Gnome’s own leg does not survive the encounter, and Kol starts biting him and shaking. She grapples skillfully, not letting the gnome get away to a safe distance and continuing the assault. Of course, Boris does not relent either, stabbing and slicing the dwarf to the best of his ability; still, soon enough, one of his arms is ripped off and another is crushed, and his dagger falls next to the dwarf’s weaponry. Still, the gnome starts to use his own teeth and claws, and what follows is a brutal biting match. Biting marks and scratches form all over the fighters’ bodies, and by the end of it both of them are mangled almost beyond recognition. Still, despite the ferocious fighting by the gnome, his much lesser blood volume decides the day, and he falls, completely lifeless. Kol is looking much worse for wear, with wounds on every single part of her body and can’t do anything but wait for the arena medics to arrive - but she is still breathing. Congratulations, Kol! You’ve literally taken victory from the jaws of death, and will be able to continue your expedition. Fight 1D:Odsnên the ongle susmat vs. Tulantuk “Caveman” Reshtar Well, that was something, wasn’t it? Anyway, onto the next one! In the upper corner, we have Odsnên (managed by u/Rithodano), a strangler who was caught and tortured by the goblins to the point of complete apathy. He entered the tournament to free himself or die trying. Which will it be? In the lower corner is Tulantuk Reshtar (managed by u/Meatyblues), known as the Caveman. Ever curious, he wandered off with a caravan, which was intercepted by bandits. He escaped, but got lost in the caverns. He fights to get a ship back home - but the Arena may not look favourably upon him... Log; Combat Video The duel begins with a quick exchange of strikes between two gladiators - which is quickly decided by Tulantuk’s spear striking right in Odsnen’s body, making him gasp for breath, Another stab sends the strangler to the ground without a foot; a few more stabs are left unanswered, as any attempted counterattacks are effortlessly deflected. Strangler is clearly outmatched, and the Caveman’s flurry of blows ends in Odsnen’s head impaled on the spear. Tulantuk quickly leaves, not giving any attention to the cheering audience. Congratulations, Tulantuk! You are one step closer to your home. Fight 1E:Shàmmansub Arelumid vs. Romek Sagar, the Ferocious Occupation Welcome Shàmmansub Arelumid (managed by u/TheBigArchitect)! A wild and powerful warrior, he proved himself in fights against different opponents again and again. Eventually he decided to find anyone who could rival his talents, and this search led him to the arena. Of course, one must always be careful what they wish for… Romek Sagar, the Ferocious Occupation (managed by u/Babycloud519) comes forward as his opponent! One of the bet amongst his kind, he nevertheless was unable to defeat the leader of his pack. He fought in many wars, and now he decides to fight in the arena to prove he is ready to return home. Assuming, of course, that he wins… Log; Combat Video The first few strikes of the battle are landed by Romek, both hitting the minotaur pretty hard. Still, one more strike of a hammer is knocked away by the axe of the minotaur, and the momentum drives it towards the leg of the wold, leaving a scratch. Then, Shammansub charges the warlord, tumbling him over; the following hack of an axe to the leg ensures that the wolf cannot stand up. From there, Romek is slowly disassembled by the minotaur: with an arm, a hand and both legs lost, it doesn’t take long before the warlord bleeds out completely. Shammansub strikes his chest a few times before the audience. Congratulations, Shàmmansub! This one was not quite the match for your strength. Fight 1F:Hacker Man vs. Leg'O Lämme the Delicious Another fighter enters the arena, and his name is Hacker Man (managed by u/eFFiX)! Exiled from his parents’ cellar, he now hopes to achieve victory in the tournament through his monstrous weight - which, of course, has no intrinsic merit… His opponent is a minotaur, going by the name of Leg'O Lämme the Delicious (managed by u/Immortal-D)! He is a fighter who escaped from a fighting pit, only to voluntarily bring himself here for his glory. His outfit is outrageous to some of our dwarven patrons; will he prove himself strong enough to change their mind?.. Log; Combat Video Neither combatant uses any weapons beyond their natural ones, and so it seems the fight will come down to a contest of pure strength. The combatants rush at each other and exchange a few dodged blows before Leg’O finally grabs the Hacker and throws him into the wall - though not before receiving a punch to the leg. Afterwards, the minotaur starts mercilessly pounding on the snakeman, periodically throwing him, only to continue the beatdown. Eventually, the pythonman freezes in fear, as the fight seems hopeless - before he finally latches out at his opponent in desperation. The fangs pierce into the minotaur’s leg, tumbling him over. This seems to boost his confidence, and even as the minotaur grabs him by the teeth, he simply bites the hand. The brutal fighting continues, snake’s tooth against a bull’s might. The opponents are covered in blood and sweat, as they exhaust themselves further - and the Delicious is the first to give. From there, the pythonman’s fangs impale the minotaur’s body, and he starts violently shaking him around. This goes on for quite a while, before Leg’O finally stops breathing. Hacker Man gives the audience a tired salute, before slithering away, fatigued. Congratulations, Hacker! One barrier down, five to go. Fight 1G:Kelvinn BloodaxeBeul the Executioner vs. Skyler Rich No rest for our wicked spectators! The first combatant in our next bout is Kelvinn Bloodaxe (managed byu/krackbaby11), the winner of the heavyweight Battle Royale! He is a grim one, not in small part due to the goblins ravaging his home. He comes here to prove his worth - and Arena is, of course, the best judge of that… The first combatant in our next bout is Beul the Executioner (managed by u/Kjak0110)! Formerly one of those lost in the Battle Royale, he was given a second chance when Kelvinn Bloodaxe suddenly disappeared (if you find him, there is a bounty). The minotaur was captured by the goblins and made their slave, before fighting his way to the executioner’s position. In the Arena, he seeks to prove that his position does not mean weakness. We only have to wonder if it is true. His opponent is Skyler Rich (managed by u/aspy523), who introduced himself with a dozen and a half titles which I’m not going to recite, for everyone’s sanity. As a son of a famous industrialist, he claims to be outraged by the lack of elven fan favourites recently (which really depends on one’s definition of recent, to be honest), and has entered to show everyone the supposed superiority of elves. He’s proud, that’s for sure, but will he really prove it? Log; Combat Video The horn sounds once more, and the elf rushes forward, his shield in front of him, to meet the dwarf. For some time, the two engage in a whirlwind of strikes, blocking them with their shields as masterfully as they strike - before Kelvinn pushes the elf with his shield, making him fall, and severely slashes the latter’s sword hand as soon as he hits the ground! Skyler drops his scimitar on the floor and takes another slash to the stomach from the mercenary, but then continues defending himself - before receiving a stab straight to the heart. The elf merely smirks arrogantly, even though such a wound is clearly fatal. A few more moments of Skyler trying to defend himself, but he just cannot. Two strikes to the legs, and the elf is brought on his knees. Another one leaves him gasping for breath, and he collapses, drained. Kelvinn merely scoffs, before leaving. The very first seconds define this match: a strike of the giant sword from the minotaur is deflected by Skyler’s shield, then a scimitar plunges into the Beul’s leg, sending him to the ground - and immediately after the sword falls on the sword arm of the elf, cutting it off completely! The elf is now left with nothing but his shield, but it does not diminish his fighting spirit, as he smashes it against the minotaur several times, before the sword is driven deep into his leg. The elf merly scoffs as he falls and bites into the minotaur’s leg, before Beul, with surgical precision, removes the elf’s head from his body. Beul lets out a triumphant roar and twirls the sword over his head a few times. Congratulations, Beul! Your first feat of strength has been shown. Fight 1H:Mörul Kogandodók vs. Urist of the Boreal Valley Enter Mörul Kogandodók, The Many-Colored, Cthu-lite, Master of Cuddles and Cuttles (managed by u/SmoothCricket), riding in a richly decorated vat of water made specifically for him! As a hero of the Empire of Octopusman, he entered the arena to get a fortune which will win a war for his nation. If he falls, his Empire will as well. But Armok doesn’t care about the causes…Today, he faces Urist of the Boreal Valley (managed by u/Jebidijed)! A macelord turned into an ice monster, his purpose turned from defending his Fortress to defending the Dwarves, and, all logic twisted by his mind, he decided that fighting in the Tournament will help him uphold justice. He may be huge, but the Arena has not been kind to its largest fighters… Log; Combat Video It seems that the surface doesn’t accommodate the cuttlefish man very well, as, immediately after he crawls out of it, he starts suffocating. In such a state, he offers almost no resistance to Urist, who brutally bashes in Morul’s arms, leg and stomach, before finishing with a mighty strike to the head which sends it flying to the wall, the hopes of the Octopusmen with it. Urist roars triumphantly and moves away to prepare for the next fight. Congratulations, Urist! Your cause, whatever it is, is advanced. Fight 1I:Mephisopheles II, the other Foul Blendec vs. Zip Zop (Art by u/smileymaster) Look in the upper corner, where Meph the Second (managed by u/Meph248) stands, preparing himself for combat. A foul blendec extremely similar to the gladiator with the same name participating in the previous tournament, he comes for the same reason: to search for someone called Dr. Faustus. We’ll see whether his luck is better than his namesake’s… Turn your gazes to the lower corner, onto Zip Zop (managed by u/Smileymaster). This goblin has come… well, the official version is “from a far-off land to claim great riches and glory”. The reality is that she just wants to pay off her debts in the corner tavern. Remarkably, she has tied an anchovy to her head, hoping to distract her opponents with it. Time will tell whether it will work... Log; Combat Video The foul blendec wastes no time, hitting the goblin straight in the head with the flat of his blade mere seconds from the horn’s blow. And yet, it doesn’t seem to dazzle Zip Zop too much, and she lashes out with her blood thorn weapons at the blendec. The two are locked in a deadly dance, their skills matching each other well, before Meph manages to stab the goblin’s arm, making her drop her whip. Now only left with her dagger, she manages to fend him off anyway, if barely, before the scimitar enters her upper body. The goblin turns truly furious, and when the foul blendec charges her, tumbling to the ground with her, she manages to get a stab through his mail shirt, making him wince in pain. She continues the assault, and the blendec panics because of this turn of events. He runs away, as she continues to strike him with her wooden dagger again, and again, and again, as blood starts to seep through his armor. With more and more strikes landing on Mephs’s body, he eventually starts vomiting due to a strong blow to his guts; with goblin’s offense not relenting, he slowly and painfully bleeds out from a thousand scratches, and in a few minutes, he draws his last breath, unconscious. Zip Zop cheers, sweat and blood covering her whole body. Congratulations, Zip Zop! This is your first step to the glory and riches. Fight 1J: Udib Ironruler vs. Van the Dungeon Master Here comes Udib Ironruler (managed by u/askuaninja)! The baron of a great fortress of BlaseFurnace, he always had a remarkable affinity for iron, and the entire fortress was clad in it due to his mandates, straining the metal industry quite a bit. Because of this, the dwarves of his fortress sent him to the Arena in the finest iron armor and with the finest weaponry they had to offer. Will he show that the nobility is not as useless as many dwarves believe?Opposing him is Van the Dungeon Master (managed by u/BauxiteMechanism)! He is a troll who has made a career out of pleasing people with very weird interests - namely, being beaten up. As it brought him little fame after a hundred years of work, he has decided to try himself in the Arena, already claiming himself its boss. Will he be able to practice his art with less willing subjects? Log; Combat Video The match starts off with a short dance, troll managing to hit the noble a few times, though with much of the force deflected by the armor. Then, Van manages to grab his opponent by the hand and scratch the armored leg, producing the sound of torn flesh and tumbling Udib to the ground. The dwarf defends himself successfully for a few seconds, his will slowly breaking before the Dungeon Master’s fists. Eventually, the troll manages to pin the noble down and squeezes his neck with his hand. The dwarf soon goes completely pale. Van then moves away, his eyes completely cold. Congratulations, Van! Your strength is plain for all to see. Fight 1K: Heribert, the Iron Elf vs. Ipetynalzo Toothbreaker, the Pretty Stomping-Boy And into the fray heads Heribert, the Iron Elf (managed by u/Glimmerglase)! He is considered a coward among his kin, but he has decided that he has turned this lack of spirit into an advantage. He believes himself to be the first elf to voluntarily clad himself in iron (a notice which has been challenged at the Arena already), and hopes to get an edge this way; but equipment is not everything… Opposite him, you see Ipetn- Ipetynza- Ipetynalzo Toothbreaker (managed by u/Buddhas_Palm)! He is an extremely effeminate elf who has tired of people hating him for his crossdressing ways. In his lust for revenge, he has found that he enjoys kicking his opponents’ teeth out; now he hopes to prove that beauty equals strength. This, of course, will be called into question today... Log; Combat Video Ipetynalzo opens the match with a hurricane of kicks and punches, most deflected by Heribert’s buckler. Still, it is enough to make the latter quiver in fear, giving the Toothbreaker a chance to rip one of his fingers off! The fight continues to be extremely one-sided, as Heribert’s weak will does not allow him to land a single strike on his opponent, and the pretty boy beats him up mercilessly, if somewhat futilely. Eventually, Heribert loses his buckler, then falls unconscious. Ipetynalzo continues beating up his unconscious body in blind rage for several minutes straight, before finally deciding to end his opponent by strangulation. When limp body of Heribert falls on the floor, Ipetynalzo twirls and bows before the audience. Congratulations, Ipetynalzo! You have proven that beauty, at the very least, does not equal weakness. Fight 1L:City Guard NPC vs. Flipper Gut-Ripper, the Chipper Drink-Tipper Welcome our next fighter: the man known only as “City Guard NPC” (managed by u/CalamarRojo)! He’s a pretty boring fellow, to be honest, with guarding the city composing most of his personality. That and wanting to go on an adventure, but being afraid of getting shot in the knee. He deemed the Arena the best place for that. Of course, here getting shot is one of the least concerns… Opposing him is Flipper Gut-Ripper, the Chipper Drink-Tipper (managed by u/Sinoroth)! This frightening little penguin man has learnt of Global Warming due to all of his favourite taverns melting, and now he has begun a crusade to exterminate all life to stop it. I’m not blaming any of you for getting a Deja Vu… or having your post-traumatic trigger activate, for that matter. Anyway, let’s see whether he can push on with that rage… Log; Combat Video From the get-go the difference in skill is extremely apparent, as the Guard’s pike is deflected by the axe, and three precise strikes follow - neither cutting through his armor, but still making the NPC fall down in pain, his leg damaged severely. The penguin man continues his assault, as the pikeman futilely tries to do something against the fury of his opponent… except for the fact that his armor holds pretty steadily against Flipper’s assault. With increasing frustration, the penguin man continues beating the Guard with his axe and his feet, at one time jabbing the axe into his eye, making a bloody mess out of it. Still, the man doesn’t even think of giving up, and Flipper’s frustration slowly grows into panic as he cannot get through his enemy’s armour. Then, the Guard makes a stab that is surely too close for comfort, and Flipper starts running around in panic - for a moment, before getting back to trying to break open the iron can. Soon enough, he collapses from exhaustion, still not relenting - but giving the NPC a chance, one which the latter does not waste. A thrust of the pike, and a wound opens on penguin’s arm. Another - and his upper body is pierced, with the penguin man showing signs of lung damage. The tide of battle is turned, and injuries from many strikes of the pike form on the environmentalist. Soon enough he passes out, and it takes a few more strikes before one particularly lucky strike nearly cuts the penguins body in two, ridding the world of another ‘green’ genocider. The City Guard is almost breathless and waits for the medical team to pick him up. Congratulations, City Guard NPC! You’ve protected your city - long with so many others - successfully. Fight 1M: Wullbinkle the Mooseman vs. McDwarf In the upper corner, we have Wullbinkle the Mooseman (managed by u/SilverJohnny)! Despite his intimidating stature, he has always been a good and gentle creature. With nothing but a helmet got from a blacksmith who he saved, he decided to come here to hunt anyone who would threaten his kind. Will he succeed?In the lower corner, we have McDwarf (managed by u/zai13)! There is very little to say about this individual: he has come to the arena to become the champion or die trying. Well, one of these fates will surely come to pass... Log; Combat Video From the first seconds, the mooseman starts using his enormous size advantage to knock over the dwarf three times, and while he gets hit in his leg by McDwarf’s mace several times, he stomps the dwarf’s main hand, mangling it completely. As the mace is sent rolling on the floor, McDwarf draws sharp breaths, panicking. Slowly, but steadily, he is broken by the mooseman, and the fight eventually ends with McDwarf’s life being choked out of him. Wullbinkle moves away, without as much as a sound. Congratulations, Wullbinkle! Your power is truly that of a giant. Fight 1N:Kosak Stormclaw, Polar Bear Man Adventurer vs. Adil “The Hammer” Furnacedrinks, First Shield of Safedays The first contestant for our next match is Kosak Stormclaw (managed by u/kesperan)! A polar bear man with a spear made of meteoric iron, he is known for almost single-pawedly turning the tide against the yeti invasion in Stonegleam, only asking for a cask of bear for his troubles. The reason why this grim warrior has entered the tournament is unclear, but he does seem to be a fighter of great skill; of course, the Arena holds many masterful gladiators… His opponent for today is Adil Furnacedrinks (managed by u/Panzerbeards)! The First Shield of the fortress of Ekastolod, which has decided to isolate itself in the wilderness in hopes that if everything else falls, it will stand, he holds a fundamental disagreement on philosophy of hiding; after all, no door can remain barred forever. He has come to the tournament to inspire his comrades to take up arms and fight for what is good in the world; one must remember, however, that the Arena makes most heroes into martyrs... Log; Combat Video There is truly brutal efficiency in this fight demonstrated by Kosak: after a strike of the hammer is deflected by his spear, he delivers three precise strikes: the first to the leg, tumbling Adil to the floor; the second to the hand, severing it and making the dwarf lose his warhammer, and the third to the upper body, the stab going all the way through to the spine and practically paralyzing the guard captain. From there on, it’s just a matter of time before Adil is ended. His last moments are spent in agony, as the bearman mutilates his body with both his spear and his claws. After the dwarf stops breathing completely, a roar sounds over the arena, feeling strangely matter-of-fact. Congratulations, Kosak! You’ve demonstrated your skills easily for all to see. Fight 1O: The Almighty (and kinda stinky) BAM BAM vs. Liet El-Kharim And now enters BAM BAM (managed by u/witcher222), the Almighty, and, frankly, stinky. This sasquatch was brought to us by the goblin slavers (note that the administration of the Arena in now way condones slavery), this creature hail from the savagest of woods and will fight for freedom. To get it, however, he needs to get through six opponents… The first of whom is Liet El-Kharim (managed by u/Duck_hallucinations)! He is a guardian of the woodlands, befell by sorrow due to all the trees that were killed. As he is aging, he believes that this tournament will be his final message to the lesser creatures that the forest will not be deterred. This message might not be the most effective if he dies too soon, however... Log; Combat Video The two fighters are among the largest the Arena has ever seen - or will see; the arena almost shakes as they rush towards each other. The guardian of the forest gets the first strike right in the sasquatch’s stomach, who then retaliates with two bashes of his mace in his arm. Then the mooseman knocks Bam over and hits him twice on both of his legs, ensuring Bam Bam won’t get up. Disappointingly to many, the sasquatch passes out soon enough, and Liet hacks him in the head several times, before finally it gets stuck in the head of the slave. Leaving his axe in the skull, the moose man bellows deeply to the public. Congratulations, Liet! Your message may yet come through. Fight 1P:Shendau Goldpeak, the Ascetic, the Hermit, the Master of the Art of the Sword vs. Gardner Minshew III (aka The GOAT) And onto the floor of the arena steps one of the instant fan favourites for this tournament, Shendau Goldpeak (managed by u/MavellDuceau)! Having trained in the blade mastery on a secluded mountain, this goat man claims to have practiced one strike a thousand times. Let us see whether this claim is proven right. In the opposite corner, you can see Gardner Minshew III (managed by u/TopTrumps02)! As a student of martial arts, he was bullied, before defeating the leaders of every school in his lands. This has bolstered his ego to heights unseen, and he has declared himself the Greatest of All Time (or GOAT for short), having come to the tournament to prove it. Of course, the Arena might have other plans... Log; Combat Video The fighters seem to go neck to neck at first, a mace clashing with a longsword. Several times, Gardner even manages to break through the Hermit’s defenses, mace first landing on his body, then on the hoof. Neither of those strikes seem to defer Shendau, however, and eventually he finds an opening to stab through the GOAT’s arm. This is immediately answered by a bash of the mace to Goldpeak’s leg, before the latter pushes Minshew to the ground, stabbing his leg. GOAT does not get up, pain causing him to pass out almost immediately, and Shendau quickly drives a sword through his opponent’s eye, finishing the fight. He then bows before his dead opponent, cleans his blade and walks away, stoic. Congratulations, Shendau! Your training did pay off, as it seems. Fight 1Q: Rattleback Jr. vs. Jean-Benoit, the last Heir of the Cuddlefish And yet another pair of gladiators comes to claim the glory! Rattleback Jr. (managed by u/Daniel_The_Finn) is a kingsnake man, who has watched the Splatterface Tournament not long ago, rooting for Rattleback the snake man. When the latter fell in the first round, this warrior has decided to take on his name and redeem the honour of the snakes everywhere. Let’s watch him try to do that!Today, his rival will be… another vat with a cuttlefish man, going by the name of Jean-Benoit (managed by u/Ytaro). His arms were bitten off by a shark, but he has trained his legs’ muscles to a state nearing perfection. Now, he wishes to show off his magnificent legs before the entire world. Seeing what happened to Morul, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Log; Combat Video The fight goes as well as expected, with Jean-Benoit starting to suffocate almost immediately after stepping out of water. Consequently, the fight is a cakewalk for the snake man, who mercilessly stabs the breathless mariner until the latter’s blue blood runs out. One would think that the cuttlefish men would be smarter than this. In any case, Rattleback raises his spear high, letting out a triumphant hiss. Congratulations, Rattleback! His name lives on, as do you. Fight 1R:Grekk the Deranged vs. Ngezbo the Feisty Gremlin And now, I present to you Grekk the Deranged (managed by u/ReverendBelial)! Some of you may have already seen him on the tribunes of the Battle Royale. A not-very-sane in the first place fan of Birdee Petalmaligned, one of the most beloved participants of the previous tournament, he has gone completely mad when she met her end. Now he swears to kill every minotaur for what they did to her - an oath that’s far easier given than upheld… And so enters his opponent, Ngezbo the Feisty Gremlin (managed by u/RexRedstone)! I honestly can’t say very much about him without any advertising, so forgive me. Ahem, ahem… This feisty gremlin is outfitted by the finest set of Bembul’s High Quality Iron Armor, which will protect him from the mightiest blows! Order yours today and get a free commemorative tunic! Oh well, let’s see whether we’ll need to sue them for false advertisement. Log; Combat Video With the very first blow of Grekk’s heavy maul, the gremlin’s arm shatters, causing him to drop his dagger. The second blow to the leg is deflected by the gremlin’s armor - but then the hyena man lunges forward, trying to bite the gremlin’s head off. While the helm itself holds, the sheer force of impact seemingly breaks Ngezbo’s neck, and he is left completely paralyzed! Of course, in such a state the gremlin is helpless against the slaughter that follows, with the hyena man bashing and biting, overcome by bloodlust. The gremlin holds for an impressive amount of time, all things considered, but quickly bleeds out, fear easily readable in his eyes. Grekk cackles psychotically over the corpse of his enemy. Congratulations, Grekk! Your quest to avenge Birdee is not over just yet. Fight 1S:Adrinna Catastor vs. Spiro Escargot Mulluscagneau Now, in the upper corner of the Arena, we have Adrinna Catastor (managed by u/Extension_Driver)! This woman claims to be a traveller from another, dead world, having entered through a tear in time and space. Considering everything, I might even believe her. In any case, she seems to have heard of great prizes that our tournament offers and thinks that she can win it all. She needs to do her best, because the arena is a cruel mistress… In the lower corner stands Spiro Escargot Mulluscagneau (managed by u/Folzfodefelz)! A former slave in a dwarven fortress, who has only escaped due to a forgotten beast utterly destroying it, they with a few of his fellow snail people have reclaimed an abandoned fortress and created a mercenary company, the Saline Order, where they have risen up to the rank of a Paladin. Now, they are on a quest to find a sacred artifact for his people. To do that, they need to get through the Tournament, however… Log; Combat Video After a quick dance between the two warriors, Adrinna is the first to get a strike in, simply severing Spiro’s shield hand. Another strike soon follows, though it is simply a scratch. The dance continues shortly, before the snail man manages to get two strikes with their flail in - neither doing too much damage. This allows the woman to push Spiro to the ground, where she gets two precise stabs to their upper body and flail hand - the latter making them drop their weapon. Now defenseless, Spiro tries hopelessly to defend themselves against the flurry of strikes by Adrinna, but fails. More and more wounds appear on their body, before they finally collapse, most of their silver blood now staining the floor of the arena. Adrinna smirks, cleans her spear and walks off, satisfied with her battle. Congratulations, Adrinna! This brave new world welcomes fighters like you. Fight 1T:Andaloth “The Peculiar Pecker” Kilt vs. She Intends To Stab You Please, welcome Andaloth Kilt (managed by u/rentedred1), who goes by the nickname “The Peculiar Pecker”! He’s constantly quite messy and smelly, as it seems; despite it, his flock claims to like him, which is exactly why they sent him into the Arena. I somehow doubt their motives. In any case, let’s see whether he can proceed, for… His opponent is She Intends To Stab You (managed by u/kippyster)! Her newly-chosen name seems to fully encapsulate her intentions in this tournament; with her frankly creepy smile and dark, piercing eyes, she certainly does seem like the kind of person to stab people to death. Though it’s not an easy task in the Arena… Log; Combat Video This knife fighting match begins with an enrapturing display of skill, as the gladiators dodge and parry the stabs and slashes from each other. They make their first hits almost simultaneously, with Her striking Andaloth’s arm strongly enough for an audible crunch and the bushtit man managing to get to the axolotl woman’s leg, if barely. A few more strikes, and Andaloth lands a scratch on Her face with a dagger, before overonfidently charging and bouncing off her. She immediately takes advantage by cutting off the bird man’s foot, sending him on the floor. From there, it becomes a massacre, with the axolotl quickly (and literally) disarming her opponent and starting to land stabs all over him. He slowly, but steadily, bleeds dry, and Her face doesn’t show any change as her opponent draws his last breath. Congratulations, She Intends To Stab You! You certainly can fulfil your intentions. ----- Alright, our dearest spectators, this was a lot of fights. I think everyone needs a break, don’t you? We’ll let silence fall upon the arena for now, but do not tune out or go too far away. The carnage has not yet been ended. See you soon! ----- Credits: Written by u/Black_Griffin23 Edited by u/Morpheus_Darkwater All drawings by u/Devilingo, unless otherwise noted Tournament run by u/Morpheus_Darkwater Continuation in the comments.
First | Prev | Next Discord Valentine The pain in my shoulder kept rousing me from sleep, and damn did I ever need the rest. I'd get an hour or so of sleep, and then something would happen to tweak my shoulder. I'd roll over, or move reflexively to brush away an itch, and I'd be brought reluctantly to wakefulness. It's not that I was uncomfortable. In fact, this 'hotel' as Wallace called it, might be one of the most luxurious buildings I'd ever set foot in. The furniture down in the restaurant, for example. The quality there, in just one of the pieces, was astounding. It was difficult to get fabric to take dye consistently, to achieve a uniform colour. As such, it was often the upholstery that was of particular prestige, making quality pieces often the centre of a noble's living room. Not only was every piece of furniture in that restaurant of such quality, everything matched. It was as if some sort of perfect automaton had fabricated each piece. And that was to say nothing of the carpentry and metalwork involved, which were similarly astounding. Then there were the sheets I'd wrapped myself in. It wasn't quite the same as silk, silk had a more sultry quality, and this felt somehow more wholesome. It was more like a warm hug than a- well, than any of the sorts of things I usually got up to when tangled in silk sheets. And with Wallace sleeping nearby, his long steady breaths providing a comforting rhythm, and his scent lingering on the air, I found that I felt safer than I had in a very long while. Not safe, there was a reason I still kept a pistol nearby, there remained a long way to go for true safety, but I was safer. I only wished I could enjoy it, to bask in the warmth from the pile of blankets, and luxuriate in the feeling that I didn't have an immediate looming threat breathing down my neck. The problem was, my gods damned shoulder would not stop hurting. I tried to find a position that wouldn't aggravate my injury, but despite my best efforts, still couldn't stay asleep for more than an hour at a time. Finally, angry, bored, and still very tired, I kicked off the blankets in a fit of pique. Of course, that only hurt my shoulder more, and I grit my teeth to keep from waking Wallace with a pained gasp. I frowned, the steady rhythm was gone. I snatched a sheet and held it to my chest. With some difficulty, I sat up and peered over the edge of the bed. Wallace had left. Which meant he'd woken up. Which meant he'd noticed me sleeping on the floor next to him. I sighed. I had been hoping to be gone before he woke, though I wasn't sure what I was trying to hide. That I trusted him? He probably figured that out about when I was huddled naked in the bath. I wish he'd woken me, we could share breakfast, and I'd follow his explorations, but damn I was tired. I slithered into the bed, still warm from his presence. I curled up in the middle of the bed where the warmth was the greatest and settled in among the blankets and piled pillows. By some magic, the mattress shaped itself to fit my body, and I quickly found a position that didn't set my shoulder aflame. The heat made me drowsy, and in renewed comfort, saw little reason to fight it. I had little idea of the time that had passed when I finally woke once more. I only knew that the hollow and tired feeling had abated, and the sun still had not yet risen. I considered laying there for a while longer. Perhaps I'd doze off again, but thought better of it. I was curious about what Wallace had been doing, had he returned to the room, only to leave me to sleep in peace? Perhaps, but it was a large building. Likely he wasn't finished exploring. I pushed myself up, found my torch and pistol, and wrapped myself in one of the sheets. So covered, I slipped back across to my room and dressed in the sleeveless shirt and legless trousers I'd worn to dinner. I'd worn the ensemble to dinner out of exhaustion, after all, getting into the flight suit was a bit of a bother at the best of times, and I didn't feel like attempting it with one arm. I'd expected Wallace to make some remark, maybe blush a little. I'd even had a biting retort ready for the occasion, but he didn't protest my lascivious dinner wear. It seemed not to register to him. I found I quite liked Wallace, which was quite the novel experience. I'd always seen company as something to be avoided unless I'd paid for their time. How strange it was then, that I hoped Wallace would stay once I'd finished teaching him what magic I knew. With him possibly anywhere in the massive building, I intended to track him by scent. Sleeping several hours in his bed had made that tricky, however, and I had difficulty separating the scents present in the environment from those clinging to me. I could get an idea of where he'd been, but was unable to tell how long ago it was. As it seemed he'd spend the hours I was asleep searching the entire building, I found myself doing the same. I struggled to find a single room that did not have at least a trace of his scent within. It made me regret leaving my necklace behind, but it wouldn't be safe with my shoulder still healing. That said, I'd only checked the first floor, and I could already feel myself growing faint as I gazed at the door to the stairs. I am going to make that man carry me back down here. Just pushing open the heavy metal door- the humans take security seriously it seems -made me feel dizzy. I put my hands on my knees and took a few deep breaths to steady myself before continuing. I woke to the taste of blood in my mouth, a brutal headache, and the reek of fear. I shifted a little and blinked my eyes open, and I heard a sigh of relief. "Oh thank god, please, just don't move." I came to realize that Wallace was holding me in his arms, a little too tightly, as he was making it difficult to move my head. "Wallace," I grumbled drowsily, "Let me go." "Valentine, just- please, for fuck's sake." I met his gaze, and my anger softened as I saw the concern in his eyes. He looked like he'd just seen me die. "Okay, okay," I soothed. Wallace calmed a little as the sickly scent of fear was gradually replaced by the musky scent of my pheromones. With so much skin uncovered, the effects should have taken hold much more quickly than they did, but at the very least it didn't appear as if his heart were about to stop. Wallace took a deep breath, "In first aid- for humans -the number one thing, the most important thing unless someone is gushing blood, are head and neck injuries. " I placed my palm gently against his chest, "It's okay," I finally understood what had him so shaken, "Fey are different, we're not so vulnerable to getting bumped on the head." "You're-" he began, but I put a finger to his lips before he could interrupt. "I know a thing or two about treating injuries, Wallace," I insisted, "I learned all sorts of things about head injuries, but us fey are not like anyone else. If we were, every noble house would have a pile of dead servants who fainted trying to carry the lady's tea up the stairs." Wallace gently took my hand away from his lips. He held gently onto my hand, our hands clasped loosely across my chest. "I thought you were dead," he said flatly, "I pushed open the door, and here you were on the landing, limp as a corpse and white as a sheet." "This isn't the first time I've fainted trying to climb the stairs," I sighed, "I just need a little air." I gave a little yelp as Wallace gathered me up and rose to his feet, and quickly threw an arm around his neck to steady myself. I squirmed around until I was in a more or less sitting position. The motion made my head throb, and I rested my head against Wallace's chest while I squeezed my eyes shut against the pain. I'd made it almost to the roof, following Wallace's scent, but that was damning with faint praise. It had been easy to figure out where he'd gone off to once I was in the stairwell, as his scent was present throughout, but the climb had been brutal. To any other fey, my ascent through the building would seem supernal. But to the humans who'd constructed the building, doubtless to Wallace as well, I must have seemed pitiful. Wallace elbowed the bar across the door, which shifted slightly, and he ducked out onto the roof. I shivered as the cold air brushed across my exposed skin, and tried to press closer to Wallace. It got awfully chilly during The Long Night, and I was a little underdressed. The roof was altogether more pleasant than that of the 'gas station', as Wallace had called it. There were several cushioned benches scattered about, some small trees here and there, and a few flower beds set against the low wall that ringed the rooftop. Someone, indeed, likely several someones, had gone to some effort to make the space as pleasant as possible. "What happened to your jewellery?" Wallace asked, his voice low, though I could feel the bassy reverberations in his chest. "It's not safe to use while I'm healing," I shivered, "So I'm useless until my shoulder is mended." "You're plenty useful," Wallace insisted, "You teach me magic, and I'll carry you around wherever you want to go," he promised. He carried me over to one of the benches and took a seat. He let go of me, but I didn't take the opportunity to slide off his lap. Instead, I snatched a nearby blanket and pressed it into his hands. He took it, an amused expression on his face, and helped me settle it around myself. With it trapping the heat, it felt like I was sitting with my cheek resting against a furnace. Between his natural scent and the all-encompassing warmth, I felt myself growing drowsy once again. I pulled the blankets tight around myself and peered up at him, "Maybe I'll ride you around like a horse," I giggled, "Did Temerity get to ride you around too?" He immediately turned red, his lips set in a thin line as he tried not to break out into a guilty smile. "Oh, she did, she did!" I hooted, "Were you face up or face down? The girls at The Blushing Maiden have given it to me both ways, so I can see the appeal in either case," Wallace turned, if it were even possible, a yet darker shade of red, "Now that I think about it, Temerity does seem the sort to take the initiative. Face down then." Wallace's guilty smile turned to a grimace, but there was grudging mirth in his eyes and the twist of his lips. I prodded him in the ribs, "You're not even the tiniest bit angry," I asked incredulously, though it was more of a statement. I pressed my nose against his chest and inhaled deeply, "I can't smell a whiff of anger. If I were a servant, anyone else would be having me flogged right about now to correct my mark against their honour. Or as a noblewoman, they'd be looking for a father, brother, or husband to duel." He sighed, a wry, grudging smile on his face, "Humans used to be like that," he admitted. I frowned in thought, "Now that I think about it, I don't believe Simon has ever challenged anyone to a duel. And gods know people have tried to goad him into it." "Why, to try to get rid of him?" Wallace guessed, "Seems like a losing proposition if it's fey versus human, even if he doesn't go all Super Saiyan on them." "Super Saiyan?" I inquired. Wallace covered his face with his hand, "The body magic thing he does." "Oh, well, you're right. Magic isn't allowed, though that can be hard to enforce. But it's the privilege of the challenged party to opt for a champion to take their place. Usually a sprite, or now that there are other races in the city, a goblin or elf. But it matters little," I explained, "Simon seems genuinely ambivalent to even the most grievous insult made against him. At first, it led to him losing a great deal of respect within the city, but once it was clear he didn't care about that either, I think he was able to turn it into a strength. That said, it's not as if he doesn't get even with those that oppose him. Typically when a nobleman of the city goes after Simon, he'll find that a wife or daughter will have mysteriously fallen for the human interloper," I thumped Wallace on the chest, "Simon's playroom isn't quite as well soundproofed as Temerity's though, I understand that most of the manor, along with anyone out on the street, can hear when Simon is taking the initiative with a new paramour," I put a hand to my chin, as if in thought, "Now that I think about it, that must be some serious soundproofing in Temerity's place, I mean, you must be awfully lou-" Wallace, very gently, but very firmly, put his hand over my mouth. "Shhh." I shrank inwards a little and nodded. At first, I'd been needling him just to see what it would take to get him to strike me. Humans were still an enigma to me, and I found that people were generally easier to deal with if I knew where the limits were, but now I realized that the greater risk would be making the big mushy goliath feel hurt. He took his hand away, and I pulled myself up to plant a kiss on his cheek, before sinking back down to nestle against his chest. "You're an okay bodyguard Wally." "Thanks, Vally," he replied wryly, "Have you got your daily allotment of teasing me in? Can we get to adult stuff?" I rolled my eyes, "Val will be fine, and what is it?" "Well," he began, pulling down the blanket a bit so I could see out into the night, "I picked this bench for a reason, are you able to make out that light in the distance?" "No, can you-" Wallace covered both the torches, and I waited as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. "Maybe?" I said finally, "I might just be seeing what I want to see though. I take it you're more confident?" He nodded, "It's a campfire. It's way the hell out there, but it's a fire." "Probably surveyors from Caniforma," I guessed. "Are they going to be a problem?" "Perhaps," I admitted, "They might eventually find a route here, but surveyors tend to guard their discoveries jealously. Unless you know who to ask, it's not easy to even learn where to buy such information, and that's to speak nothing of the price. No, they're not likely to pose a threat. That said, if someone is truly determined to come after me, they likely could reach us." "You mean someone might pull the same stunt we did," Wallace realized. I pulled the blanket back up over my head and relaxed against the big man. "Yes. And while we had to spend a day getting through the pass, the proximity of the mountains offers possibilities to the determined." "You mean someone might try to make their own little rest stop by climbing up far enough? Would that even work with horses?" "Doubtful," I replied, "But if it came to it, they could abandon the horses to the tide, and sleep out the night partway up some convenient cliff." "Hmmm..." he rumbled quietly, "Just trying to think through the timeline here. So the horsemen, horsewomen, horsepeople?" "They were riders, not centaurs," I huffed. "Whichever, point is, they left late. After all, we left late, and they left even later after that. So we'll assume whoever comes after us has time to prepare, and are down the ramp from the city at first light." "Not a simple task," I interjected, "There are special carriages that carry horses down, and even if they've planned to have those ready, the descent is yet slower than it was for us." "Okay, fair," Wallace agreed, "But it does mean that, compared to the riders we ran into, they'll be further along at any given point in time." "Fair," I agreed. "Which pushes their point of no return forwards, I don't know, six hours?" he guessed, "That might be a bit generous, but we should prepare for a best-case attempt from them." "They also won't have spent several hours searching an alien neighbourhood for us," I added. Wallace nodded, "Which means they get even further. Now include the fact they've got a safe return that's a lot closer... yeah, I bet they could make it. Fuck they'd be tired though." "I wouldn't worry about it for now, Wally," I assured him, "I have a hard time conceiving of a more defensible position than what we have now. We'll have time to ready ourselves. Besides, they know not what they face at the end of their journey. I don't expect to see them in the next Long Night, perhaps the one after next at the earliest," I peered up at him from beneath the blankets, "Plenty of time for you to learn some magic." Wallace beamed and seemed to tremble at the mere word, and it gave me a little thrill to see him smile like that. I thumped my hand against his chest again, "Carry me inside, feed me some breakfast, and we can get started." Wallace pursed his lips, "What was that you said, something about protecting you but not taking care of you?" I narrowed my eyes, "You're not taking care of me, you're pampering me. "As you wish, your highness," Wallace replied wryly. Still bundled up in the blanket, Wallace brought me back inside through a different staircase. Rather than functional metal railings and hard stone steps, this staircase was thickly carpeted, and the hardwood railings were stained a rich dark brown. Wallace shouldered his way through the door at the bottom of the stairs, and I somehow found myself in a room that was even more luxurious than what I'd seen below. Now that wasn't to say that every surface was engraved, gilded, and studded with gemstones as it might be in a royal's palace. The humans who'd built this structure seemed to have a preference for understatement, and instead of displaying wealth with precious metals and rare stones, it was with quality materials. Again, I was astounded by the uniformity with which the carpets and furniture upholstery were dyed. The elves could do work that was nearly this good, but it wouldn't be uniform over such a large area, and the reagents they used to fix the dyes had an unfortunate scent. It looked to me that the top floor of the entire east wing was dedicated to this single set of chambers. Well, perhaps not 'chambers', as the designers seemed not to have believed in walls. Where they were needed, they were either glass, as the exterior walls were, or did not rise to reach the ceiling, and served simply to break up the sightlines and provide a little privacy. Oddly enough, the kitchen seemed to be displayed proudly, rather than being out of sight, hidden back in some servant's area. I wasn't happy to see the harpsichord, in what would be the sitting room, had it been a separate room. There was also another of those black glass slabs that humans always arranged their furniture to face. There had even been several in the restaurant below, arranged so that no matter where one sat, a slab could be seen. This one was the largest I'd yet seen and was nearly as wide as I was tall. The deference shown to the objects suggested some religious significance, and it occurred to me that there had been something similar in the house we'd looted before leaving the human neighbourhood. The materials hadn't been quite the same, and the glass slab at the front had bulged outwards rather than being perfectly flat, but there as well, the furniture had been arranged to face it. "This is the penthouse," Wallace explained, "I wanted to wait until you were up to ask your thoughts, but I think we should start moving our stuff up here. The stairs are a problem-" "It'll be fine once my shoulder is mended," I assured him. Wallace shrugged, and set me down on one of the wide upholstered and high-backed benches in the sitting room, "There's also some conference rooms through there," he went on, nodding towards the central spine of the building, "so there's space for us to work if we need it." I stretched out on my back while Wallace went over to the kitchen to root through the cabinets. "Is that what's atop the other wing?" I yawned. "No, the conference rooms are near the elevators, probably for fancy people to have fancy people meetings," he called back, "The other wing is a presidential suite, so I guess this is an American hotel." "American?" "Uh, it's another country from Earth," he explained, "But the language is the same, and I'm familiar enough with the units they use to measure things that it's not a problem," I heard the cabinets shut. A moment later, Wallace was peering over the side of the couch, "I'm gonna go out on the balcony and cook, you stay out of trouble till I get back." "I'll try, no promises." With both of us properly fed, I had Wallace join me in the sitting room and drew him down next to me on what he called a 'couch'. While he'd been busy cooking, I'd poked around the penthouse, looking for something to use for our first magic lesson. I'd found what I'd needed in the bathroom- a bathroom that was larger than some commoner's homes -a box of hairpins. I took out just one of the pins and handed it over to him. It seemed comically small in his enormous hand, and he held it between forefinger and the odd not-quite-thumb, not-quite-finger that was his extra digit. "I can do magic with just this?" "Yes and no. The first thing to understand-" I began. Wallace beamed, and threw his arms up in the air, "First law of magic!" I sighed, but couldn't help but share his smile, "You're just a child on the inside, aren't you." "We're all children on the inside," Wallace replied, "and we're all just pretending otherwise." My smile turned to a smirk, as I considered what I might do if I wasn't trying to keep up appearances as a noblewoman. And the truth was, it wasn't as if I put much effort into such appearances. "Are you going to let me teach you magic," I prodded, "or are you going to keep sharing your philosophy?" "Alright, alright, what's the first law of magic?" "From a single object, you can only get one type of mana," I recited, "There are exceptions, but for the time being, one object, one type of mana." Wallace frowned and stared intently at the hairpin, "That doesn't exactly make sense." "What about it troubles you?" "The exceptions. Physical laws don't tend to have them." "Wally, which one of us is teaching and which one is learning right now?" "I know, I know, but I also spent two decades in one type of school or the other," he insisted, "Newton's laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics, Euclid's postulates, they mostly don't have exceptions." "Mostly?" I repeated, "So then they do have exceptions, why is it so strange then-" "That's just it," he exclaimed, "Thermodynamics, that's sacrosanct. Pretty sure even magic doesn't violate that no matter how hard you try. But Euclid's postulates and Newton's laws of motion, those are different. Euclid had five postulates. The first four are simple. I mean simple enough that they're a single sentence that a kid could understand. I mean, the first one is that you can draw a straight line between any two points, really simple stuff. But Euclid was trying to explain the very fundamentals of geometry. His problem, and hell, mathematicians worked on it for hundreds of years after him, was his fifth postulate. He was trying to describe the fundamentals behind parallel and non-parallel lines, and it was kind of clumsy. He couldn't quite get the phrasing to be as neat and tidy as the other five postulates. And not just him, like I said, plenty of genuine geniuses worked on the same problem, and couldn't figure it out. See, the truth was, there was a deeper understanding that wasn't known," he paused, I think he'd noticed that my eyes were starting to glaze over, "Um, remind me to tell you about non-euclidean geometry some time. The point is, the way he was trying to describe how parallel lines worked, didn't always apply. But he couldn't even conceive of how it didn't apply. It was as if he was blind to it." "And you think the same is true for magic?" I said slowly, as I digested his speech. "Yeah, and you know what," Wallace said confidently, "This is exactly the sort of thing Simon would recognize as well." I felt a sudden tightness in my chest, not fear, but excitement. Wallace had already been able to provide some hints, but now it felt as if I were finally starting to draw the curtain aside. "This Newton, what was his mistake?" "Well the thing to remember about Newton, is that he was a genuine genius. I mean, he couldn't figure out the equations necessary to track the motions of planets, so he invented a new type of mathematics. He was one of the first guys to lay out a set of laws that could begin to describe the way the physical world worked. It's more complicated than that, and others added to his theory to build Classical Mechanics, but there's a reason that Classical Mechanics is sometimes referred to as Newtonian Physics. The trouble was, there were areas where his theories broke down. But like Euclid, it broke down in ways he couldn't conceive of. It worked for apples falling from trees, and planets orbiting stars, but not, for example, black holes, nuclear weapons, and spaceships trying to travel faster than light." "I feel as if I say this frequently in your company," I told him tiredly, "but pardon me?" "Newton's theories worked at the scales that most people can conceive of. From the very smallest bit of dust, all the way up to the most very massive stars. As for velocity, it covered the stationary, all the way up to objects travelling more than a hundred thousand times faster than a speeding bullet." "What else is there?" "Exactly!" he exclaimed, "It took another two hundred years for a guy named Einstein to come along and invent General and Special Relativity, which explained how things smaller than motes of dust, larger than the largest stars, and nearly as fast as light worked." "I still don't think I understand quite what you're saying, but I take it, that it is enough to know that there was more to know than Euclid and Newton could fathom." "Exactly," Wallace agreed, "So, what are these exceptions to the 'one object, one mana type' rule?" "Gemstones, air, and liquids. Raw gemstones can be cut in such a way as to provide two of the available mana types at once. Garnets, for example, provide four mana types, Metal, Body, Strengthen, and Protect. When it is faceted, the jeweller selects any two of those, and from then on, those are the only two mana types that the garnet may provide. Indeed, the caster must use both types, for any spell that includes the garnet. As for air and liquids, neither can be said to be a single object. With liquids, typically one must use the entire container unless it's something like a spellcaster dipping their hand in a lake or river. That's typically only something experts can do though. Most spellcasters will simply scoop some up in their hand or the like. Air presents the same difficulty, experts can simply use it directly out of the space around them, but most Air magic users will carry glass bottles of various sizes." "So say I wanted to use this bobby pin," Wallace suggested, "I'd need to use the whole thing, and only for one of its available mana types?" I nodded, and then Wallace bent the pin until it broke into two halves, "And now this is two objects, so I could use what was a single bobby pin, for both mana types in a spell?" "Yes, that was the puzzle I'd intended you to solve," I admitted, "I sense you're unhappy with this answer?" "I am," he agreed, "I don't know how the 'one object one mana type' rule is wrong, but it's wrong. What if I had two pins, or let's say I just use both these halves. These are metal, so they've got Metal mana? Okay, so could I use both halves for Metal mana, and then some third object for the other mana type I need?" "Yes," I said slowly, "I suppose that's the second rule. Controlled magic always takes two types of mana, attempt it with a single type, and only the gods know what will happen." "Alright, well I'm gonna think on rule one. It feels kind of like a 'blind men and the elephant' situation." This time I just threw up my hands. Wallace grinned sheepishly, "Sorry, have you ever seen an elephant?" "Yes," I replied, more than a little exasperated. "Coles notes-" he began, and I gave him a dangerous look, "Sorry, simple version is, one blind guy puts a hand on the leg and thinks an elephant is like a tree. Another feels the trunk and says it's like a big snake, so on and so on." "You're clearly very intelligent, very learned. It's a shame you hide it behind a veneer of utter madness." "We can argue about who's crazier later," he chuckled, "So we've got the first rule, 'one object, one mana type', and its exceptions, and the second rule, 'one or more verbs, and one or more nouns, or bad things happen'." "Then there's the final rule, and it applies to the case you suggested, using both halves of the pin for Metal mana. Steel is a Greater source of Metal mana. It doesn't matter how much steel you have, it will only ever be a Greater source. The quantity of steel instead determines how long the Greater source persists." "Is there a number for greater?" he asked, "What's the scale?" "I've yet to hear anyone use numbers to try to describe the difference between various mana sources, or at least, try and succeed in coming up with anything that makes sense. No, the scale is Minimal, Lesser, Moderate, Greater, and Significant." "Hold on. Actual metal is only the second-best source of Metal mana? How does that make sense?" Wallace demanded. I shrugged, "Only gemstones are a Significant mana source, metals are typically Greater, not just of Metal mana itself, but of whatever other mana types that metal provides as well. Copper provides Greater Fire, for example." "Hmm, seems kinda weird that it's the most powerful sources of mana that are best known," Wallace mused, "I would have thought it'd be the other way around." "There are commonly known rumours about colours and herbs both supplying either lesser or minimal mana of a great many different types, but I've yet to hear any specifics." "How are new types discovered then? Even if most people get the info second-hand, someone would have had to be the first." "It's tricky," I warned, "And I don't even know if the method I know of is the safest way to do it, but typically one takes a material with a known mana type, and the material they want to understand and attempt to cast a spell. Either the caster can guess at what mana might be present in the unknown material, in which case things proceed as with any normal spell." "And if they get it wrong?" Wallace grimaced. "If they get it wrong," I continued, "Or simply try to cast a spell without trying to guess what mana types might be present, then nearly anything can happen. The proto-spell uses the selected mana from the known material and a random mana type from the unknown material, and chaos generally ensues." "I'm guessing it's generally a good idea to use small quantities then?" Wallace offered. I nodded, "Anything to limit the potential damage. Transformation magic and Body magic are the worst. Fire magic, to be sure, may cause severe burns if the caster is unlucky, but Healing magic can correct something as simple as an injury. But a body, malformed by magic, is nigh-impossible to correct." I took his hand in both of mine. It was soft but strong, and large enough that my thumbs didn't quite meet in the middle. "Promise me you'll listen, and promise me that you won't go experimenting on your own," I urged him, "This is dangerous, and there's only so much I can do. If I were any good with healing magic, I would have fixed my shoulder already. I understand your excitement, but before we continue, I need your word that you'll listen when I warn you something's dangerous." "Alright, I promise," he assured me, "If I come up with anything crazy, I'll talk to you first." "Thank you, the other thing I should warn you about is that this isn't going to be easy. I don't want you to feel discouraged if it doesn't work right away." I didn't want to sabotage him by telling him just how hard it was to cast a spell for the first time, but I also didn't want him giving up. I'd seen both extremes in my time. Some would give up after trying and failing for weeks, while still others would hear such tales and internalize the assumption that they'd never be able to do it. I was by no means a magic tutor, but those I was familiar with had spoken of striking a balance. It was essential to warn would-be spellcasters of the difficulty, without making it seem insurmountable. Magic was a science of the mind after all, and if someone got the wrong idea in their head, it often made their magical journey a great deal longer, if it started at all. "Everything is hard until you figure it out," he replied, "I'll be patient." "First," I began, speaking softly, "Close your eyes, once you get more familiar with magic you won't need to, but for now it can help to focus the mind." He did as I asked, and I let go of his hand to pick up the box of bobby pins. "The spell you're going to cast will give you an invisible hand, that can pick up only metal. Steel contains Earth, Fire, Metal, Movement, and Protection mana. You're going to use the Metal mana from one half of the pin, and the Movement mana from the other to create this hand," I shook the box so he could hear the pins rattle, "Then you're going to use that hand to pick up some of these pins." Wallace nodded, an oddly tranquil expression on his face. "Now. Magic requires you to hold two different understandings of the world in your mind. First, there's the world as it is now, where you're holding two halves of a broken pin in one hand. Second, there's the world as you will it to be, where the halves of the pin are gone, and you have an intangible hand, capable of only manipulating metal. Now I understand that might not make much sense," I admitted, still speaking softly, "But think of it as there being two worlds. There's the mental world as it exists within your mind, and there's the physical world, as it appears to everyone else. Take your time," I said soothingly, "Don't rush yourself, the important thing is to-" There was a metallic rattling, and then the pins were floating above the small box, as if cupped in an invisible hand. I leapt to my feet, astounded at what I saw, "Wally, that's amazing!" I exclaimed. Wallace was not so enthused. He had his eyes open now, but there was an unexpected sadness in them. "Seems I'm uniquely suited to this," he muttered dourly. "What's the matter?" "Nothing, just the universe reminding me that I'm a freak." "Who cares?" I demanded, "What you just did takes most people weeks or months, you're a freak? Wallace, I would cut off my arm to be a freak like you. You're an enormous slab of muscle with indestructible bones, a supernatural talent for magic, and this is just a guess, but someone your size is also probably hung like a horse." He immediately turned red and brought a hand to his face, but I went on unabated, "Who cares, if I had a body like yours, I would revel in it. The strength, the power, I would need to run from nothing. And what you said about your body making muscle no matter how lazy you are? Gods, I would eat as much as I wanted, drink whatever I liked, and bed whoever I fancied," I shook my head slowly, "But you don't conduct yourself like that. I would have searched out some shapely elf noblewoman, one that was easier to handle than Temerity, to act as patron and paramour while I ate and drank and fucked the days away," I spread my arms, and gazed down at my scrawny frame, "But instead you're here with me, because I need you, and because you have a good heart." "Well," he said slowly, "Thanks, I guess," he said with a bland shrug. I growled and prodded him in the side. I wanted it to hurt, but I think my shoulder ended up worse off than his ribs. At the same time, I bore down on my pheromone glands, forcing out as much of the rage pheromone as I could muster. "You don't think I know you get angry sometimes? Really really angry?" I demanded, "When we lost that pack, gods, I didn't think the scent of anger could be that thick. And then in the tunnel when you were trying to get through that metal cover, the smell was so strong I thought I was going to faint." I wiped my brow with the back of my hand. It wasn't sweat. Instead, I was giving off so much of the pheromones that it was beading on my skin, and making my clothes and hair damp. "But you didn't lash out at me, or anyone else. Who cares if you get angry? It happens, what matters is what you do with it. You're a good person, with a good heart," I informed him, "But time to time you need someone to slap you upside the head and get you on the right track, that's all." He chuckled at that. There was enough rage pheromone in the air now that he should have long since bashed my head in, but instead, he was laughing. He raised his hands, "Alright, alright, you've made your point. Now could you please tone it down? If I have to put up with this for much longer, I'm gonna burst a blood vessel." I switched to the opposite pheromone, and couldn't get much out before my glands ran dry, but it was enough to neutralize the rage pheromone in the air. I put my hands on my knees and took a deep breath, I don't think I'd ever pushed myself that hard, and I was surprised to find it left me so exhausted. My legs felt like jelly as I stumbled back over to join Wallace on the couch. "If you're done feeling sorry for yourself," I huffed, "I can finish explaining magic," I offered. "Go ahead, what's left?" he asked wryly. Continued in comment
Three Ways To Bring The Sontarans Back! - Eggy Ideas
Here are just three ideas I had which I originally posted onto my vaguely Doctor Who themed blog. If you are interested in reading it on there then click here. If not, read below! Good day readers, after rediscovering a streak of creativity in me amid the Lockdown of 2020 I have decided to post some ideas I have had for episodes of one of my favourite shows; Doctor Who. This series will be semi-irregular, you might see a couple pop up in a short space of time, or none for ages – who knows? Either way, expect a wide variety of post styles, from ones like this where I break down some episode concepts I had, or full series plans. All the artwork included in today’s post is my own, as are the ideas unless specified otherwise. Enjoy. So, the Sontarans. They are one of the “big five” from Classic Who; you’ve got the Daleks, the Cybermen, The Master, the Silurians, and then these potato-heads. All five from this selection have been brought back in some capacity since the show was revived in 2005, but I don’t think i’d be alone in saying that its only really the first three who have had proper justice on screen. The Sontarans first reappeared in The Sontaran Stratagem, and in said S4 two-parter they are treated as a powerful threat, but there are quite a few other issues with the story, and by this point in the RTD Era Earth invasions really were getting trite. As stated in my review of said episodes, they have never really been my favourites, but that did not mean that I never wanted to see the Sontarans again for the next 12 years. Since 2008, the Sontarans have been relegated to cameos in The Pandorica Opens or as Strax (Dan Starkey), a comic-relief character who is partly responsible for reducing what is supposed to be a formidable foe to an embarrassment. And so those two points there are why I want to bring the Sontarans back; to do something creative with them, be that setting or core-theme, and to bring back their fear factor. How does one achieve that? Well, possibly by following these three story suggestions: Posters for each episode For The Glory Of War! The Rutans, arch-nemesis of the Sontarans, have only ever appeared once, in the 1977 serial Horror of Fang Rock, and even then its only one Scout which resembles a slimy green jellyfish. The main gimmick of the Rutans is that they can infiltrate societies by metamorphosing into a different species, they are shape-shifters, if you will, and thus ripe for an episode involving spies and covert operations. In For The Glory Of War!, The Doctor receives a transmission from a resistance group out their in the cosmos: “Corium is on Planet X, this is our only chance to stop the war” – this takes her across the galaxy to a Clone World somewhere in the Mutter’s Spiral; its barren, mostly irradiated, but certain sections of it are neon-green and used for the growing of fresh troopers. This story is set towards the end of the Rutan-Sontaran War, with the enemy seemingly retreating to the edges of the galaxy in fringe groups. To provide further context, let it be known that Sontarans live for the joy of battle, and the Rutan Horde supposedly started the conflict god-knows-when because they were bored. These two classic ideas are at the core of this episode concept, which will focus primarily on the pointlessness and cyclical nature of war itself. Led by Space Marshall Corium (latin for hide“) who has established a forward base on this barren planet, the Sontarans are readying for a final push into new galactic territory to finish off their foe, but little do they know their leader is actually a Rutan Host in disguise – big shock, bet you didn’t see that coming. This reveal would come towards the end of the story (be it a two-parter or otherwise) after The Doctor and a selection of resistance fighters infiltrate sections of the clone facility and then the military base to reach Corium: The Doctor has her own non-violent ideas for dealing with the big boss, while the others just want to straight-up shoot him. Their journey across the planet will take them through a variety of locations, all with the intention of showcasing aspects of Sontaran culture not typically showcased; training grounds for fresh clones, recreation rooms with battle-simulations, and the upper echelons of Sontaran society where the big-wigs plan the next move. All these locations are shown to us while the main cast get into occasional scuffles with Sontaran Troopers and Field Major Klaashe, always desperate to stay hidden with a variety of gadgets. In an attempt to form some kind of commentary on the real-life modern machine of war, the reveal that Corium is actually the enemy in disguise who has been controlling the Sontaran war effort for decades will come as no surprise to other high-ranking Sontaran members, all of which adorned with medals and the like. In a deal with similarly ranked individuals of Rutan society, the two upper-classes agreed to continue the war for as long as possible, not only to further both economies, but because it has been the only lifestyle they have ever known, and the prospect of changing is unheard-of. As such, the notion that the Rutan Horde are on their last-legs is entirely orchestrated to match the ebb-and-flow of a genuine war, the Sontarans are planned to be in a weaker position for the next few decades, and so on. The story’s climax will follow as Corium is assassinated, the Sontaran upper class are all torched in their tower (with The Doctor being against this mind you), and the resistance fighters killing themselves in the process. With their ruling elite gone, Field Major Klaashe rises to the challenge, and leads the armies against the Rutan Horde, changing absolutely nothing. Thus proving war is a game, and even taking out the top dogs in a society so used to conflict, nothing will be averted. Quite a solemn hard-hitting episode I imagine, or at least the idea I have for it is – a real commentary on the American industrial military complex. Its about time the show stopped pulling its political punches, although lets at least try to avoid direct monologues into the camera. So thats the most thematic story of the three I have proposed here, if that isn’t your cup of tea then how about something a tad more simple? Conquered This story serves two purposes in truth; the main one is to re-establish the Sontarans as a powerful and scary force to be reckoned with following years of hilarity, and the latter is to similarly – but to a lesser extent – redeem the Stenza in the eyes of the general audience. I don’t think I need to talk about how shoddy the Stenza have been since their introduction, with only one notable individual (Tzim Sha) being dealt with in arguably the worst episode of the show. When they were first introduced however, I thought the Stenza had a lot of promise; they are hyped up as “the conquerors of the Nine Systems” (thats where the episode title comes from) and are shown to be ruthless predators… in concept. As such, Conquered will have a first half almost entirely dedicated to highlighting the cool (pun intended) aspects of this relatively new species. Conquered opens with The Doctor already in orbit above a forest planet; on one side of the frame is a Stenza battle fleet, and obscured by the galactic equivalent of a smoke grenade is “the enemy” (i’ll give you one guess). The forest planet has native humanoids who want nothing to do with the ongoing war but unfortunately their planet is being programmed as a bomb against the other side by Stenza master engineers: a call-back to how they made the natives of Desolation destroy their own planet. The Stenza are shown to be absolutely ruthless in their endeavours: torturing the inhabitants, freezing whole villages, but still ever-fearful of the enemy whom they refer to as just that – no names. To give some contrast to Tzim-Sha’s warped tooth-fairy design, a named Commander of the Stenza Fleet will be N’ic-Grim, whose gimmick will be he sticks eyes to his skin. The rest of the Stenza in the episode will be wearing the same armour Tzim-Sha wore in The Woman Who Fell To Earth, perhaps with some small modifications. All this talk of Stenza though? I bet you’re wondering when the Sontarans show up! Well, the purpose of this first act is to hype up the Stenza by ridding them of the Tzim-Sha baggage (possibly even a direct reference to “an embarrassment we sent to Earth long ago”), establishing their ferocity and malice, and their ultimate goal of using an entire planet as a massive bomb. And then… we throw that all away by having the Sontarans send in a strike team onto the planet’s surface who absolutely massacre them, taking control of the bomb, and using it against the Stenza Fleet now that they did the heavy lifting, destroying them all – but possibly not to the extent where this is their last televised appearance (hint towards a future post in this series). Of course, The Doctor manages to save at least a couple of the inhabitants of the planet, resettling them somewhere else. If I was genuinely making this episode, i’d put my all in to establishing a real sense of dread as who this possibly “enemy” could be, before pulling back the literal smoke screen with loud dark synth tones as more and more Sontaran Motherships pop into frame. Just cool stuff, you know? Anyway, this was more of a simple idea than the previous one, but it established the two goals I set out to complete, so I consider that a job done. Now for an idea i’ve had for a good long while, and my favourite of the three: The Always Samurai I don’t know where I read it, but I distinctly remember hearing talk of Jodie Whitakker wanting to do an episode set in Samurai-era Japan. Considering the show has never really gone beyond Western history thus far in the modern era, and considering the fact my episode suggestions here have an unlimited budget, I suggest we grant her wish. The Always Samurai, a play on “The Last Samurai” is just that episode – it could even be one of Jodie’s final ones to bring a sense of closure to the end of her tenure perhaps. Either way, my main goal with this episode was to use the Sontarans in a genuinely creative way, and establish at least a partial redesign. Rack your brain – name the greatest warrior societies in Earth’s history; Sparta, the Vikings, Normans, and also possibly the Samurai. So where better to train Sontar’s elite forces than by observing the battle tactics of one such group? In this story The Doctor (and possibly Team TARDIS) arrive in Japan in 1878, expecting to see a post-war country beginning to blossom in the lack of the Satsuma Domain. Instead, they find that the Siege of Kumamoto Castle (which famously marked the end of the Samurai era) still on-going, with locals referring to it as “the always battle” and that it has never changed. Unable to even go near the castle due to a temporal bubble surrounding it, The Doctor utilises her TARDIS to smash through into the time-lock (cue references to the Time War), discovering that the final battle of the siege is still on-going, with only the Samurai aware that it has replayed multiple times. And so the team find themselves split up; Yaz and Graham head down into the castle amid the fire and ash to establish the situation, getting to know the Samurai (particularly Saigo Takamori). Emphasis is placed on the fact the Samurai have relived the battle over 100 times by now, and still their lines have not broken, highlighting once again their battle prowess even against the technologically advanced imperials. Yeah, this is a LOT of historical romanticism, but its Doctor Who, when has that ever not been a thing? Also, this isn’t making war criminals seem like good people either. As for The Doctor (because Ryan Sinclair will never be in an episode I design), she investigates just who is causing the time lock, discovering a small group of Sontaran Black Operatives, one of the most deadly fighting forces in the universe. Aboard their ship: references galore! The audience is treated to trophy shelves with remnants of Daleks, Mire, and Cyberman gear, just as a bit of a build-up to the prowess of these elite troopers. Their design will be all-black, more in-line with the Classic Era Sontarans, and their objective here on Earth has been to analyse our best fighting forces to hone their skill in combat even further to assist in the Rutan-Sontaran War, endlessly replaying the Siege of Kumamoto Castle with direct influence over wether or not the Samurai are aware of it, to test their abilities before eventually beaming down to fight them head on. And this eventually happens in the climax of the story; the Samurai face off against katana-wielding Sontaran Black Ops, and through help of Team TARDIS they manage to win, and the siege is reset back to 1877, just days before it reaches its end. The main cast say goodbye to Saigo, knowing full well they will die, but this time – with honour. I’ve had this idea for a long time and always thought it was cool, mainly because of the Samurai, but the Sontarans are used in what I believe to be a very interesting way. The Black Ops design as well is something i’m quite proud of. There we have it! Three ideas for Sontaran-focused episodes, each one with a central core theme or gimmick, each one hopefully accomplishing the two goals I set out at the start: doing something interesting, and bringing back the fear factor. Next up: well i’m open to suggestions really, I possibly might do a shorter post with an idea I had for a Stenza-centric episode, but if I think of something better then huzzah! Thanks for reading.
The ‘Tree of Knowledge’ that Ohara is built around is 5000 years old, making it the oldest surviving structure in the One Piece World. When it is raided by the Marines, they ‘found something that isprobablyaPoneglyph’ in the basement of the structure, the basement in which Robin spied using her Devil Fruit Powers, and it is via this that she learned how to read the Poneglyphs. ‘Probably’ a Poneglyph? By now, even the viewer has come to be capable of immediately identifying a Poneglyph by sight, and indeed, even within the open, observatory area of the Tree of Knowledge, we see what DOES look like a Poneglyphencased in the wall, presumably for studying: what could the Marines have found in that basement that allowed the Oharans to ‘decipher the Ancient Texts’? The reason I specifically say ‘decipher the Ancient Texts’ is because Professor Cloverspecifically says to Robin that ’we are thefirst people in Historyto learn how todecipher the Ancient Texts’. Once again, I think this is critically important: Oden was seemingly capable of ‘reading’ the Poneglyphs due to his being able to hear the ‘Voice of All Things’, but perhaps like Ohara, Wano has some sort of ‘Rosetta Stone’ that has allowed them to decipher the ‘Ancient Texts’? When Robins mother, Nico Olvia returns to the island, she says that she was travelling with a research team that was attempting to decipher the Poneglyphs: this is an extraordinarily dangerous task, and all thirty-three of her crewmates were killed for this crime. In fact, when Professor Clover rises to give his speech to the ’Five Elder Stars’ as he calls them, he tells Robin to leave for the evacuation ship, because ’listening to what [he] is about to say is a crime’, and that gives me chillsevery time: One Piece is, above all else, a story about stories, and Ohara is very clearly the ‘Library of Alexandria’ of the One Piece World. Oda, like all good people, detests the destruction of knowledge, especially when it is done ‘in the name ofJustice’, and this extends to the forbidding, hiding, and obfuscation of ‘True History’: the Ohara scholars are so dismayed when the Buster Call begins, that they attempt to throw the books of the Great Libraryinto the lake, to save them, filling it with books in their frenzy, before the island succumbs. When Jaguar. D. Saul is washed ashore, before he even notices Robin, he comments, ‘I wonder if she’s alright’. Soon, via Spandine, we learn that Nico Olvia was captured, but more than just ‘escape’, she was aided by someone on the inside in fleeing Marine captivity. Is Saul the one who helped her? More than that, I posit that perhaps Saul is a part of S.W.O.R.D, and that Oda has had that in the works for a lot longer than we expected. Soon to arrive on the island are Kuzan and Sakazuki, before they became Admirals, although they were both already considered ‘monsters’, as Sakazuki and Borsalino were both considered so before they enlisted together. When Olvia lands, we get the only mention of her husband, when someone refers to her ‘husbands unfinished business’. Now, the Ohara Incident takes place about 20 years ago, and it was slightly before that when the ‘Pirate King’, Gol. D. Roger was executed, and it has been a long-time theory that perhaps Olvia was his wife: since then, we have learned that Roger had Ace via Portgas. D. Rouge, and it seems unlikely to me that Roger would have had two women with which he had children. We know that her husband is dead, and died six yearsbefore the Ohara Incident, so it may yet be possible to put those pieces together. What I continue to get odd feelings about is Kuzan: Sengoku was the one to give Spandine the permission to initiate a ‘Buster Call’ on Ohara, and that strikes me as odd. Was it simply a time before Sengoku was as grey and empathetic as he now is, or could it perhaps simply be that even though he already was, he knew of the ‘True History’, and as such, even he believed that it would be better for Ohara to be wiped from the map than for the ‘Ancient Weapons’ to be revived. Kuzan, ‘coincidentally’, permits Robin surviving the incident, and although he is a good friend to Saul, he is still forced to kill the Giant, even as he helps Robin flee Ohara (cough Newgate, Marineford cough). What further strikes me as ’coincidental’ about all this, is when he breaks the Marine rules to visit the Strawhats on their way to Water-7, and where he ‘decides’ tokillLuffy and his crewrather than let that ’dangerous’ woman go free. Luffy, of course, tricksKuzan, by challenging him to a duel, so that when Kuzan defeats Luffy by freezing him, their conflict is essentially ‘over’. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Kuzan for honouring this ‘deal’, when I know that Sakazuki, for instance, would absolutely annihilate the Strawhats afterward. In re-watching this scene, however, I truly don’t believe that Kuzan was ever ‘trying’ tokill Robin: he freezes her solid, before literally telling the Strawhats the only safe way to keep her alive, namely, by slowly heating her up until she thaws out. “Unless”, he says, “I do this”, at which point he moves to ’smash’ Robin, but Luffy grabs her in time: it is at this point that he challenges Kuzan alone. I truly have come to believe that instead of trying to kill Robin then and there, he is instead testing the ‘Will’, the resolve of her Nakama that she has finally found, and comes to see she truly has found a crew who understands the meaning of ‘friendship’. Why, like Sengoku before him, does he then give Spandam a golden den-den-mushi, allowing him to summon a Buster Call, and then tellhimand CP9that theStrawhats are on their way to Water-7? This, again, seems absolutely unlike Kuzan, although it could be argued that once again, as he knew the potential destruction she could initiate as one who could read the Poneglyphs, he simply left it ’up to fate’, knowing that if Robin was meant to live, then the Nakama that she had come to love and rely on would be able to handle it. In the end, it turns out that they do, when they rescue Robin from the very ’Gates of Hell’ themselves. Kuzan has gone on to, after leaving the Marines, join the Blackbeard Crew, which at this point is something I think we all seriously doubt he did without a hidden, second motive. I believe, also, that Kuzan is likely a part of S.W.O.R.D, and that if he is not its creator, then Sengoku very well might be. Swaying both Garp and Kuzan to see ’History’ from the ’True’ side, they both came to a different conclusion than Rayleigh did, in that they all remained in the Marines, and fought for the ‘good’ side from withinthe circumstances that they had found themselves.
THE ‘CELESTIAL DRAGONS’ – THE ‘SPOILED BRAT’ DESCENDANTS OF GOD
Now, Im had allowed his five closest allies to become the Five Elder Stars, the visible, named faces that the World Government, and thus the Marines would report to. Although the ’Five Elders’ have absolute command over everything the Marines might do, there exist the ’Celestial Dragons’, the plethora of ’World Nobles’ that also seem able to give any command, and break any Law that they so desire within the World Government. These Celestial Dragons, are the many, insolent, rude, inhumane, hated, and inbredoffspring of ‘God’ himself: Im, along with the twenty Kings that originally formed his World Government, and the Five Elders who came to rule it for so long beside him, of course had children of their own: these children were the ’children of God’, as they were descended from Im, ’God’, the Man who came from the Stars. As such, they consider themselves not even Human, and do not even deign to breathe the same air as ‘commonfolk’. Instead, they wear what look like bizarre space suits, but are they really so bizarre? I think they are simply the twisted, misremembered remnants of the literal space-suits worn by Im, and others of his kind, when they came down to ‘Earth’. Although they are not needed to survive, like they were in the inter-planetary journey, they are basically seen as such, in that the disgusting Celestial Dragons behave as if breathing the ‘same air’ as ‘commoners’ is putrid, with Mjosgard himself hating the detestable ‘stench’ of the Fishmen when his own suit is first compromised. As well as this, they are born into absolute royalty: they see the entire World as their own ‘possession’, and thus consider themselves free to enslave any single being that they see, and desire. If someone even touches one of these ‘Dragons’, then a Marine Admiral is sent along with battleships to absolutely annihilate anyone stupid enough to have done so.
THE ‘GATES OF JUSTICE’ (HELL) – THE TARAI CURRENT, A PORTAL TO ‘HELL’?
Another of the massive mysteries that most people seem no longer to attempt to explain or include in theory-crafting, are the absolutely monolithic ‘Gates of Justice’ that exist adjacent to Enies Lobby, Impel Down, and Navy Headquarters, the old location of Marineford. The Gates of Justice are titanic, absolutely dwarfing the facilities which they border, and seem to be made of solid steel. What possible hinges could these doors reside on, and how do they open and close? They are clearly far too large for any Human to open, and even someone like Kaido might have to actually exert a lot of effort to open these huge things. The three ‘Gates’ are all adjacent to the ‘Tarai Current’: a massive whirlpool that continuously surges within the boundaries of the Gates. The Marines need not care for any Pirates who make their way into this current, because they will simply be unable to leave, as the Marines will simply refuse to open the Gates, thus leaving the Pirates no way of exiting. It is via this current that the Marines are able to travel so quickly between these three locations, as indeed, the Buster Call on Enies Lobby arrives extremely timely after it has been ‘called’. Gloriosa states that to travel from Amazon Lily to Impel Down would take 7 dayswithout the current, and 4 dayswithinit. As such, it seems that one can travel three days worth of distance in half an hour from within the Tarai Current. I posit that this is how Shanks got to Marineford so fast: he simply used the current that no other pirate should be able to use. Whether this is due to his sheer strength, some technique, the specifics of the functioning of their ship, or due to his relationship to the World Government, are all still arguable. However, I will come to posit that Shanksisnota ‘Celestial Dragon’, but instead is the one and only friend to ‘Im’. As well as this, I truly believe that Shanks is insanely strong: he was perhaps able to deter Kaido from attackingNewgate before Marineford, purely through merit of strength alone. Elsewise, he is simply strong enough that this was a fight that Kaido was not interested in. That aside, I think that the Tarai Currentmay be some sort of massive quarry, where the World Government has either mined in search of, or is actually mining a massive ‘Pyrobloin’ deposit itself. This gigantic hole in the Sea/Earth, combined with the tumultuous and unpredictable way that the Sea is interacting with the exposed, reactive Pyrobloin, is what causes the continuous ’whirlpool’-like current that continuously runs around it. This is why the ’Gates of Justice’ exist in the first place, because along with Enies Lobby, the ‘origin of Justice’ and the original birthplace of the ‘Sunlight Tree Eve’, this is one of the best kept and most important‘secrets’ of theWorld Government. Wano is their source of Seastone, but perhaps that is due to the smithing and craftsman nature of the enslaved, isolated peoples there: perhaps Wano is not the only source of Pyrobloin, but is instead simply an additional ‘secret’ that they have had to fight to keep for centuries, until they could meld and smith itthemselves. This, in essence, makes the ’Gates ofJustice’ the ’Gates ofHell’, and Luffy is the first Pirate to ever step as close into Enies Lobby as he does, and these very Hell Gates as he does, and he does so in order to wrench Robin from the World Governments hands, mere moments before she would have been impossible to ever save again. Amazing, then, that this Monkey is in fact the first person to break INTOImpel Down, after Shiki was the first to break out: he is the Dante of the World. Back to how these massive ‘Gates’ open, I believe that the World Government has enslaved ‘Sky Kings’ in the Tarai Current, perhaps even the old, giant ’continent-puller’ Oni themselves, and perhaps the oldest and largest of these are ‘Sky Kings’ in a way. Of course, by this point, the speculation and arbitrarily created definitions might seem to be redundant, and somewhat shaky, but I am simply throwing the thousands of darts that this theory creates at the monolithic story that is ‘One Piece’: perhaps ’Sky Kings’ or ‘Oni’ are the ones that pull these giant ‘Gates’ open on their hinges, for we see no visible way that they should even becapableof‘opening’.
GOL. D. ROGER – THE ‘FALSE D’
’InheritedWill, the Tide of theTimes, theDreamsof thePeople; as long as people continue to pursue themeaning of Freedom, these things willnever cease to be!’ ’Mytreasure? You canhave it all, but you’ll have to search thewhole worldto find it, I left it all inthat place…One Piece.’ Gol. D. Roger. The man who found, and left, the One Piece. When ’he laughed.’, however, I believe it was because he realized he couldn’t. You see, Roger learned of the ‘True History’, when hefound ’Laugh Tale’. What was there, was the ’truth’, that had been attempted to be erased, destroyed, burned, removed, and killed for so many centuries, but was as all things are: maybe you’ll come to a different conclusion than me? He learned that Joy ‘Dream’ Boy had wanted to be the freest man in the world, just as he had, and that his ‘Dream’ had been strong enough, and pure enough, to produce the Will of the ‘D’, and that everyone who possessed the ‘D’ were the ’Enemies of God’, in that they were stamped as the inheritors of the Man who proclaimed himself ‘God’: Im-sama. He learned that he was too early, that ’Poseidon’ and ’Uranus’ were not Ancient Weapons, they were not even weapons at all: they were his old friends, that travelled with him on this funny, travelling tale, and that he would simply be 20 years too early to even meet one of them, or to fulfill the ‘Will of the D’ that he had inherited. Well, that was just fine: Roger had already got what he wanted! BAHAHAHAHAHA!! So they toasted, and disbanded, with Roger satisfied with achieving his Dream, and being stamped the ‘Pirate King’, ‘Gold Roger’ by the World Government: WHAT A JOKE! Bahahaha, how Im is so petty, attempting to label Roger a mere ‘Pirate’ as if it were an insult, and to think that he could hide the nature of the ‘Will of the D’ in such a way: the next, true ‘D’ that would come along, would not need to know a word of it. So, what was it that Roger told Oden that left him speechless, and sent Newgate into gouts of laughter? ’I’m going toturn myself into theWorld Government, and when theykill me, start a new,Great Pirate Age!!!’ Thus, with his death, Roger ensured that Imbelieved thathe had ‘won’, and that the centuries long ‘wait’ that he had endured to face hisStraw-Hat wearing rival was over. However, before disbanding his crew, Roger talked to a weeping, non-understanding Shanks, who asked him many questions, and received many answers. I believe that Roger left his ‘Will’ to Shanks, or rather that Shanks ’inherited his Will’ of now finding the true ‘D’ to come. Shanks, growing stronger by the year as Rogers Will continued to grow inside him, eventually found Luffy, ’betting his arm on the new age’ as he says to Newgate, and leaving the Straw Hat to Luffy, telling him to only return it once he has ‘become a great Pirate’. By Enies Lobby, one could rightfully ask Why didn’t Im just kill Luffy, then, if he believed he might be the ‘real’ ‘true D’? Well, by Marineford, Luffy is barely making it out alive, after witnessing Akainu kill his brother and send him into shock, while none other than Marshall. D. Teach shows up to kill Whitebeard and steal his fruit. Which of these, to Im, looks like themore likely candidatefor the ’true D’ that he should bewary of? Teach soars through the Schichibukai rank, barely having it long enough before becoming a ‘Yonko’, and thus, at the Reverie, it is both LuffiesandTeaches wanted posters that he holds, and then slashes up.
ENEL - THE NEXT GOD
Thus, Enel was born. Surviving on his home Sky-Island of Birka, Enel learned all about the 'True History', and he did not take it well: he stole the Lightning-Lightning Fruit, one of the most powerfulFruit in existence, perhaps being kept safe for the 'coming D', and destroyed Birka completely. He took his advanced knowledge of mechanical engineering and electricity, and perhaps he had the very plans for Pluton itself, or at least the first 'Ark' that had come to Earth, and fled toSkypiea. Here, he enslaved the populace, and forced them to make his 'Ark Maxim', knowing above all else that he truly is 'God'. He leaves our world for the 'Fairy Earth', the home which he knows the Angels, Devils, and Humans of old used to inhabit many millennia ago. When he gets there, he finds the long abandoned City beneath the craters on the Moon, and utilising his completely intentional choice of Devil Fruit, he re-awakens the City, using it to build a legion of automaton, his army once again strong.
Enel. Will. Return.
The cycle, will, continue
THE ‘WANO WAR’ – THE RETURN OF XEBEC
Now, my ‘predictions’ for Wano. Whoo boy. Sakazuki tells Fujitora of a potential alliance between Kaido and Linlin, to which Fujitora breathlessly responds that its ‘like the return of Rocks’. Does he mean the crew, or Rocks. D. Xebec himself? Borsalino moves to head to Wano, but Sakazuki stops him, saying they need a better understandingof Wano’smilitary capabilitybefore making a move. Kaido specifically chose Wano because, like with the Artificial Devil Fruit, he knows a secret that the World Government is desperate to keep: the source of the Seastone. ’Chance’, or perhaps ’Fate’ brought Linlin there while the Strawhats and their company moved through their plan, and they allied with each-other, knowing that with their combined power (a powerlargely borrowedfromXebec), they could be the King and Queen of the World. Of course, people don’t change, and they both plan to screw over the other by the time the plan is completed. The adventure of Momotaro, the story that Momonosuke seems to be highly ‘based on’, involves Momo heading to the island of Onigashima, in order to slay an Oni, and along the way he has the help of three creatures: a Pheasant, a Dog, and a Monkey. Law, Kidd, and Luffy fit these quite well, and are aiding him on his journey. However, I propose that not only is the parallel twofold, but that it is quite literally telling us who is going to show up at Wano. Kuzan, Sakazuki, and Borsalino will all come: Sakazuki and Borsalino will come after being ordered to by the Five Elders, something even Sakazuki will not ignore, in order to ensure that their ’assets and interests’ are not interfered with by the meddling of Pirates. Lucci will also be there, as CP0 has already been shown to be heavily involved in the ensuring of Wano’s co-operation, with Orochi being shown to be more than willing to even trade with them, in order to receive more Marne battleships. Remember what happened when Teach tried that with Sakazuki? I mean, Lucci was effectively sold to the government by the very same ‘Sheeps House’ that Linlin ended up at. Teach, of course, will himself show up, as a gathering of that much power, and thus, powerful Devil Fruits, will be something he cannot ignore. Alongside him, thus, will be Kuzan, under the apparent role of a Blackbeard Pirate crewmate, but whom is really there not to serve the interests of Marine or Pirate, but S.W.O.R.D, the closest thing to in-between we’ve seen so far. At some point, I believe that Shiki might very well even show up: he failed in his attempt to side with Roger, and since, has been laying in wait for a few decades. He isn’t likely to be the ’lurking legend’ we are waiting for, as he is said to be introduced in Wano, and will be the toughest thing standing in the Strawhats way to date. Shiki, Kaido, and Linlin, will ALL lose their ‘Haki’ taken from Xebec, perhaps when Linlin attempts to yank it out of them, stealing it for herself, and forcibly taking the ‘life debt’ that Kaido owes her. At this point, the critical moment of Xebec’s master plan, so long in the making, will come to fruition: Teach will attempt to ’attract’ all of this ’Soul’, this massive amount of raw Haki power, and when he absorbs all of this, he will no longer be able to resist Xebec’s Will: taking over Teach’s body, with it breaking and twisting to more accurately form its new Masters Will, Xebec will have returned.
THE NATURE OF ‘IM’ – WE HAVE ALREADY SEEN HIM
Now, I will conclude this series, for better or for worse, by positing the biggest and boldest ‘theory’ that this post arguably contains, and many of you, I imagine, will hate it. Dracule Mihawk, isIm. If you’ve made it this far, not only do I once again immensely congratulate you on reading a short novel, but I also honestly ask how the bloody hell have you tolerated me for so long??? By this point, the claim that Mihawk is Im will probably not even surprise you, as long ago did I cross the boundary where a reasonable person would absolutely dismiss me as a raving lunatic: however, if you have made it this far, then it means you’ve either felt that thrill of excitement that comes from reading such fantastical theory-crafting, you’ve seen the ‘dots’ I’ve attempted to ‘connect’ and actually think there ’might be something’ to all of this raving, or you’re just plain interested to see how deep my madness goes. Nevertheless, whichever it may be, I shall attempt to ‘explain’ why I think that Mihawk being Im might not only be the case, but why it makes sense within the ‘themes’ of the One Piece story, and why it might even make ’sense’ within the facts and events that we’ve seen within that story. Donquixote Doflamingo informs us in Dressrosa, that the power of the secret technique of the Ope-Ope no Mi, combined with the national treasure of Mary Geoise, will allow one to rule the World. With the perpetual youth surgery already performed on Im, he would prepare himself as best he could for the return of his rival: with Jewlrey’spower, he would be de-aged until he was but a young child. As we’ve seen, the people that are affected by her power retain all of their faculties, instincts, knowledge, and for the large part, their capabilities. Although he would appear as a young boy, Im would still have the absolutely dominatable Hakistrength that he had previously. Shortly before Rogers time, Im had decided to do this once again, a sort of 8-century ‘sneak attack’. This time, he would use a single means of combat, utilizing his entire strength into a single discipline, in order to strengthen and master that discipline to its highest potential: swordsmanship. I’ve already informed you how ‘Im’ could, when written with certain characters, be translated as ‘Buddha’, and this is because above all, Im considers himself ‘God’, ‘Kami’. The opposite of ’Im’, therefore, would be ‘Mi’, or ’Me’: Im would take this name ’Me’ largely for his own amusement, as well as to ‘walk amongst theHumans’ as simply ‘me’. Over time, he incredibly quickly earned a name for himself, rapidly becoming the ’Worlds Strongest Swordsman’, and over time, his name changed. First he earned the nickname ‘Hawk’, for his incredibly unique and piercing eyes: these eyes are yellow in the anime, but they are RED in the manga, the same colour and appearance of Im-sama’s eyes. Due to these eyes, he came to be known as ’Hawk-Eyes’, and ’Me-Hawk’ was eventually simply appropriated to ‘Mihawk’. Finally, the Strongest Swordsman in the World was known as Hawk-Eyes Mihawk. Now, what about ’Dracule’? Well, if we look at the most basic assumption we can make from that name, it appears to be referring to Dracula, who was the strongest vampire amongst vampires. He had many powers, which he is believed to have gained through deals with the Devil, and has amassed ’cunning and wisdom’through the Centuries, leaving him ’unable to die by the mere passing of time’. He has superhuman strength, speed, and agility, as well as the ability to shapeshift, and of course, his telepathic and hypnotic control over his underlings, and anyone else that he should choose to afflict. He can, within limitations, also teleport at will, and travel rapidly in this way to places he can envision in his mind. It is because of all of the above that I believe ‘Mihawk’ chose the name ‘Dracule’: he has been the immortal, Ancient, powerful ‘shadow King’ that sits upon the Empty Throne, ruling the World from the shadows, using obfuscation, destruction of knowledge, and the forbidding of the learning of History in order to maintain his influence, and control, and Justice, over the entire Globe: but there was one thing that, with all of his power and capabilities, he still could not achieve, and that, was the reading of the Poneglyphs. At Rogers execution, ’Mihawk’ thought that he had won. Over time, he befriended the ex-crewmate of Roger, Shanks, and dueled with him repeatedly, probably pushing Shanks strength even further, and Shanks was, in this way, the only ‘real’ friendthatImhad thepleasure of knowingin almosteight Centuries. He even brings Luffies wanted poster to his old friend, whom he refuses to duel anymore, as there is ‘no point’ in fighting a ‘cripple’. He encounters them at the Baratie, although Luffy is coincidentallynot wearing his ‘Straw Hat’ at the time, and recognizes the fierce spirit in Zoro, a swordsman’s honour that he has ‘not seen in a long time’, which is a BIG compliment. Why does he ‘help’ Luffy? Well, because his nemesis is already defeated, so as he says to Don Krieg, he is simply ’killing time’ at this point. By Enies Lobby, as I’ve said, he is starting to get annoyed: this ’Straw Hat’ is doing things that no Pirate has done before, and perhaps he was wrong about the ’D’ that was Roger…but, alas, by Marineford, Luffy is crippled and in need of rescue, while Marshall. D. Teach is killing Newgate, and becoming the ’first’ person in History to have more than one Devil Fruit power. If ANYONE should be cause for concern, it seems Teach is the one. Come Sabaody, and Bartholomew Kuma sends Zoro to none other than ’Mihawk’sabode, a lonely island which is a complete metaphor for life, and the stories in stories: the Humandrills there learned to use weapons from watching Men, and wiped out the Kingdom living there, and later Mihawk resides in the castle alone. Was it ’chance’, or perhaps an experiment in increased intelligence, for the sole purpose of providing Im an isolated, protected, and Kingly reside…either way, Mihawk and Perona eventually start to till the land, and the Humandrills again learn to live peacefully. In fact, when Zoro asks Mihawk to train him, it is one of the only times we ever see Mihawk laugh, and I think it is because he is bemused by the ’huge coincidence’ that would once again place Zoro in front of him, his own rival, to be trained by him. Of course, he accepts: he knows there is norealchance for Zoro to ever beat him. At Marineford, everyone is shocked that Mihawk even shows up: we’ve already learned from Doffy and Sengoku that it is rare for Mihawk to show up to even the Schichibukai meetings. At this point, you might even ask why the Schichibukaiexist at all: using pirates against pirates makes a lot of sense, especially with the Yonko already stomping about, and it is a perfect way for ‘Mihawk’ to not be pursued by his own Marine force. When Mihawk leaps atop a barrier, Doffy asks him, ‘Oh? Are you actually going to fight?’, but Mihawk replies that he merely ‘wants to test the level of difference, between that man and us’, he wants to see with his very own Hawk-Eyes what Newgateis capable of, before the man is done in. He is not weaker than Newgate: he is stronger. He uses an unnamed attack, a flying slash towards Newgate, and Newgate displays his power by trusting his children to protect him, and Jozu, with immense effort, deflects the attack, which slices through the frozen tidal wave adjacent to them, earning the shock of many onlookers. Jozu has, with the Diamond-Diamond Fruit, a specifically defencerelated Devil Power, and still only manages to deflect the attack. When Mihawk then decides to pursue Luffy, he apologises to ‘red hair’, saying that he will not hold back. He watches Luffy advance from ages away, his Observation Haki on another level, and moves to slash his arms: in this moment, Luffyuses‘future-sight’, stating that if he’d attacked, he would have lost his arms. Vista, a swordsman worthy of being a Yonko commander, moves to block Mihawk, and as Im, he cannot simplyone-shotVista without attracting the immenseattention and scrutiny of those around him. What does Luffy do? He has Jimbe throw him in front of the three admirals, that fantastic moment we all love, and from here on out, there is no good moment for Mihawk to move in on Luffy, and as the fight progresses, more and more he doesn’t even see Luffy as a real threat. By the time Shanks shows up, ‘Mihawk’ decides to leave, saying that fighting Red-Hair was ‘not part of the arrangement’, or something to that effect: it is not that he is scared of Shanks, he simply doesn’t want to fight him. With that, the War is over. Shanks was able to visit the Five Elders without being immediately targeted both because he is strong and skilled enough to do so, and also because he is somewhat protected from them, as they know that he isIm’s friend, and to kill him would be to attract the ire and wrath of the World King himself. By the time that Xebec returns at the end of the Wano War, I think that Im will be even more sure that Luffy is not the ‘true D’ that he need fear, but that Teach, or rather nowRocks. D. Xebec, is, and was, the one he need fear: the ’lurking legend’ hadreturned, and the race for the One Piece, was now on. ===-===
===-=== In summation, Luffy will win. Not because he is part of a ‘prophecy’ or a War many hundreds of years in the making, he doesn’t even know that he’s a part of it, and that is why he is the only one who can find ‘One Piece’. Because, you see, although I do believe that there will be a physical treasure of some kind, that is not the ’One Piece’ Roger spoke of: when Luffy has overcome the World Government, when he has saved Kingdom after Kingdom, has opened the borders of Wano, re-united the Minks, and the Fishmen, with the surface-World that they can now call home, when he has united every race, creed, Kingdom and peoples, he will have found, One Peace I really, really hope, god forbid that you actually just read the entire word vomit above, that you enjoyed your time reading it, whether you think any of it could even be right, or whether it’s a huge load of stinky poop! I had a lot of fun writing this, and this theory has been weeks in the making, festering in the back of my mind uncontrollably until every facet of the story was being twisted and tested to see if it fits. Again, literally all of this could be wrong, and I would not mind, as I had the time of my life writing it, and I am immensely blessed and grateful for even a single person having read and enjoyed this. If you didn’t, leave a comment saying why, or don’t bother, and simply downvote, because as I have said before, if I am right, then I will feel immensely bad for even having ‘ruined’ the experience for a single person. I am so comforted by the 99% certainty that I have not ‘figured it out’, and again, I don’t even believe that’spossible, as the fantastic, wonderful, and beautiful story that Oda has penned is so immense and gargantuan in its scope, that I think it is possible to theorize many different explanations for ‘all the answers’, without any of them being ‘right’. Looking forward to seeing where that Bodhisattva takes the rest of this story, it truly is, the greatest story ever told Love, peace, happiness, and have a great day, and stay safe, dannydankwood <3
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